News for Authors

Following the Buzz: Being Reactive on Social Media

by Phil Stamper-Halpin|December, 2019

Previously, we’ve helped you plan your social media campaigns, from promotional tweets to featuring your pet on Instagram Stories and everywhere in between. But in this article, we focus on how to be reactive on social media and how to find and interact with viral content.

A well-rounded social media campaign includes many pieces. You’ll want to post that beautiful picture of your book next to a few succulents one day and that designed blurb asset the next, then sprinkle in some personal posts throughout, and you might also want to make time to help promote author friends and interact with readers. This alone is plenty! But you might also be thinking: Why doesn’t my content go viral?

Going viral may seem unreachable for most, but in many ways, it’s a skill that can be learned. The key to achieving virality—if there is such a thing—is to be reactive on social media: 1) Know what’s trending; 2) Know what connects with your followers and your broader community; 3) Learn how to connect these two pieces of knowledge; and 4) Practice!

If you follow Random House on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve probably seen this strategy in action.


National _________ Day!

Doesn’t it seem like people are always talking about a “National Day” for something on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter? These days—National Pet Day! National Sibling Day! National Hot Dog Day!—often have viral tails that keep them trending for a week after the supposed event. Which means you can always join the fun.

Keep in mind, there are also plenty of legitimate national/international days that are tied to causes or organizations. Take International Women’s Day, which has been celebrated since 1911, or WorldPride, which started in 2000.

Whenever you see someone post about a national day, whether cause-based or silly, think about how you can contribute to the celebration. For cause-related days, you can promote organizations you like while also sharing your own photos and stories when applicable. For silly days, try posting fun pictures with your pets—or cupcakes, or pizza, or whatever it is we’re celebrating! Just make sure to use the hashtag to extend your reach.


Reacting to Current Events

Speaking of hashtags, there are many ways to keep track of what’s going on in the social media landscape. Twitter is probably the easiest, because when something is happening… chances are most of your followers are already talking about it. And if they’re not, you can keep an eye on the “trends” page to see what’s going on.

Some trends are daily: #TuesdayThoughts, #WednesdayWisdom, etc., and you can always jump in on those. But most trends pop up in response to something that happens in the world. Take this iconic image of Megan Rapinoe at the Women’s World Cup.

Keep an eye out for how iconic moments and photos become memes. Some are less intuitively obvious, like the one above, but once you’ve seen it done it’s fairly easy to copy the style. Others are clearer, but still take a bit of work.

One fun trend exclusive to book folks on Twitter is “Book Covers as Fashion”: Once Met Gala photos and looks got released, bookish Twitter users got to work quickly and made threads comping book covers to Met Gala fashion. Find any favorites in this thread?


Continuing on the theme of pop culture: Think of your favorite television shows or new movies that are coming out. (Or, of course, new books!) Screenshots of iconic moments—like the Big Little Lies finale screenshot that’s pictured above—will start to arrive shortly after the moments happen, and reaction images are always a big hit online.


“Twitter Bits”

Twitter is home to hundreds of mini-trends per year. You’ve probably seen it before: Someone makes a joke, then suddenly everyone is making their own variation on that same joke, and then it’s all forgotten by the following week.

Random House is always on board for a Twitter Bit, so if you’d like to play along and need some inspiration, here are some examples:

The great thing about these bits is that they give you the opportunity to be creative and make a quick joke while also letting you connect with a lot of people both inside and outside your community. Keep practicing this form of joke, and you’ll master the skill in no time.


So… What’s Trending Now?

Trends happen so quickly that often they last only a few days, though some have staying power. As we come to the end of 2019, variations on the “decade” meme have been circling around. Users are sharing their own lists of best books of the decade and many authors have been sharing photos of themselves from 2009 and 2019. Decade-related memes will only increase as we get closer to the new year!

And of course, you can always just look at what your friends are talking about. What posts are you liking? What posts are getting shared to your timelines? Is there a way you can replicate that and capture a new audience or introduce a new take? If so, go for it!



Phil Stamper-Halpin is Senior Manager, Publishing Development & Author Platforms for Penguin Random House.