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Published on October 23rd, 2015 | by Russ Dobler

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How Creators Can Best Pimp their Products on Social Media

Everyone’s at least a little bit creative. All of us have something kicking around inside, trying to find a way out. But once it’s out there, how do you get anyone to look it at? Should you even try, or does art stand alone on its own merits, regardless of audience size?

These and other questions were addressed at New York Comic Con 2015’s “Social Media for Creators” panel, moderated by Buddy Scalera, operator of the “Comic Book School” online resource for writers and artists. Scalera has written for comics like Deadpool and X-Men, but broke into the industry working for Wizard magazine, the original internet for comic book geeks.

“Comics no longer keep the lights on in my home,” said Scalera, who now works in marketing and social media full-time. He does still produce a few comics on Kickstarter, where, according to Scalera, 60% of his supporters come from social media. “It’s a noisy place,” Scalera says, but maximizing your online contacts can help you complete projects you otherwise might not have been able to.

“I was surprised when I was invited to do this thing,” said panelist Tim Washer, Comedy Central veteran and participant in that climate change debate you’ve seen. “I’m a corporate guy.”

But he still uses humor in his otherwise boring job – selling routers – and advocates that creators do the same when building an online presence. When Washer found out his newest product was being released on February 9, he made a video calling it the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, a stunt that got the device coverage in the New York Times. Washer urged the crowd to “play around and be silly,” and to put those experiments online and see what happens.

“If it’s ridiculous, go with it,” Washer said.

A slide Tim Washer still shows people who are skeptical of using humor to get attention.

Jimmy Palmiotti, legendary creator and current co-writer of Harley Quinn with his wife, Amanda Connor, agreed with the use of social media for non-professional reasons. “Once a day I push something I work on,” Palmiotti said, even if it’s putting up a negative review, like the one that called his G.I. Zombie “a war crime.”

“As a creator, you have to put your ego in check,” Palmiotti said.

The rest of the posts on his active Facebook page are about anything from music, to current events, to the work of other creators – though Palmiotti does the most “pay it forward” type stuff on Twitter. Palmiotti is a firm believer in building relationships, whether in person or online. “I’m naturally inquisitive anyway,” he says, as he’s always asking people about their lives and what they do.

Posted to Jimmy Palmiotti’s Facebook page, with the caption, “Why do I love comic conventions? Because this.”

Writer and Top Cow president Matt Hawkins leans a bit the other way, as every other post of his is work-related, although he still likes it when other things, like his observation of group dynamics in a New York City subway, garner interest. “I clandestinely try to educate while I try to entertain at the same time,” the former physicist said.

On the subject of blocking rowdy commenters, Hawkins said he’s only had to do it three times. “It’s a bizarre life,” Hawkins said of himself, growing up a conservative Christian and becoming a liberal atheist, so there’s bound to be conflict on his Facebook page. It’s not limited to fans, either. “My mother calls about once a week to complain about something I wrote,” Hawkins said.

Matt Hawkins stirred up a lot of interest on social media with this simple image, even amongst non-comic fans.

Palmiotti will actively try to diffuse a heated argument by messaging the offenders, a tactic that usually results in an apology. Hawkins prefers to just let it go. “I vastly enjoy watching people argue with each other,” he said.

Artist Dennis Calero, who had hung around after the previous panel, interjected and wondered if there was even a point in self-promoting, then. “Shouldn’t I let the work stand on its own?” he wondered, especially if the posts getting the most attention are related to other things. Calero noted that many creators seem to do fine without engaging online audiences, but Hawkins argued that those still trying to build a fanbase can’t afford to be such a “blank slate.”

At the end of the discussion, the panelists emphasized the importance in finding which of the myriad channels works best for you. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, Palmiotti has a growing Instagram following. Hawkins spoke of how useful Twitter is for constant promotion – he’s able to schedule three posts a day at the beginning of the week and just forget about it. Washer likes Facebook, too, but continued to push homemade videos and reminded everyone to not overlook Youtube.

“That’s the future,” Washer said.

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About the Author

Better known as "Dog" to friends and weirdos, Russ specializes in the intersection between science and culture. He helps promote critical thinking with the New York City Skeptics, blogs at The Thoughtful Conduit and drinks beer wherever he can find a nice tap selection.



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