The Mystery of Visibility
This question came from Char Bennardo, author of Sirenz.
How does an author—or anyone, for that matter—increase their visibility?
This is one of those questions that the answer is rather bittersweet. The sweet is because you find out you’ve been probably doing it mostly right, and bitter because, well, you’ve probably been doing it mostly right.
But let’s break it down a little.
The term “visibility” gets used quite a bit in marketing to the point we sort of gloss over it.
Visibility is, of course, being seen. But more so, it’s about being recognized.
You can be on every social network on the Internet, but if people don’t recognize you, your effort has far less value.
This is where branding comes in. We talked about it before, but here we’re going to talk about from the angle of increasing your visibility.
The visual part of branding starts with simple things, like your avatar. It needs to be consistent. People will come to recognize it as you, no matter where you are. That little avatar is like a beacon, signaling your profiles across the internet.
Second up is your name. Again, consistency. You don’t go around introducing yourself as Mary to one person and Joan to another and Esmeralda to a third. Okay, maybe you do, but it’s confusing. And it makes it more difficult for others to connect about you.
Think of it this way. If someone is talking about Mary and another about Esmeralda, it’s going to take longer—if ever—to connect it’s the same person. And even worse if your face is a lolcat on one account and a picture of a turtle on another.
There are other aspects of being visible which aren’t, um, visible. For example, your message. This starts at the core of deciding who you are. Unless Mufasa appears in swirly clouds to lay the smack down, you probably need to figure it out for yourself. And most of you probably already have, but it’s important to actually articulate it.
I am a (an)_____, who_____.
I am an aspiring author who writes horror.
I am an aspiring author who has an obsession with buttons.
Businesses use this information to know what they promise their customers and thus, what their customers are expecting. Artists use this same model to also know what they’re promising their customers (fans), and what their customers (fans) are expecting.
I’m more of a doomy, symphonic, metal-rock type girl. But I have to give kudos to Lady Gaga just from a marketing standpoint. She is bizarre. Many people watch for a variety of reasons: inspiration, fascination, horror, or simple can’t-look-away syndrome.
Her clothes are bizarre, her songs are bizarre, her music videos are bizarre, her live performances are bizarre.
Look at some popular actors.
Angelina Jolie ranges from strong-willed down to kick-ass.
Kevin James is the chubby, dorky, but lovable guy.
And I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say Jennifer Aniston’s characters are all similar to each other.
Of course, there are actors who vary their roles, but it’s easier to market to a niche.
Now that you know who you are, you have to find your message. This needs to feel right for your image, your work, and your audience. Whether it pairs nicely or provides interesting contrast, the point is to know what you want to say.
Then keep saying it.
Say it everywhere. And more than say it, show it.
This is your visibility, not just having a Facebook and a Twitter and a Google Plus and a Goodreads and ten Ning accounts. It’s about establishing yourself so those who haven’t met you before know who you are, and those who have, recognize you from afar.
How do you make yourself visible?