Young adult (YA) authors have a relatively new and incredibly far reaching way to connect with their readers. Through many different mediums of social media, more authors are using the internet as a place not just to promote their work, but to connect with their readership on a social level. We use a Daniel Nations’ definition of social media as a website or outlet that “doesn’t just give you information, but interacts with you while giving you that information.” By reviewing the authors who use social media outlets, we suggest the benefits and disadvantages of those outlets and demonstrate effective and ineffective ways of managing social media as an author.We also offer what we hope will be some useful tips for YA librarians. As Terra Dankowski writes, “Using social media is a low-budget practice….” that any library can take-on, regardless of the size of its constituency, staff or budget.” Affordable advertisement should not be the purpose of social media in libraries, but should be used according to Nedda Ahmed as a “way to start and build relationships” among patrons. Social media is especially effective for young adult patrons, and by building relationships with teens librarians are building lifelong library users, and supporting teens in terms of personal, social development
John Green, author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, is a prime example of a YA author who connects with his teen audience through an effortless mixture of humour, sincerity, and an excitement for things outside of his authorial zone.
Those three items are some of the most important tips to remember when reaching out to youth, but there are a number of other things to keep in mind when beginning a social media presence, especially if the target demographic is young adults.
Here is our list:
- Humour– Don’t force it, but humour is a great way to get people to want to follow your page.
- Sincerity-Teens aren’t stupid, they can spot a fake. Don’t try too hard to come off as cool, or as if you are selling something -it might look a bit desperate!
- Excitement– Include things on your page that aren’t just about your main purpose (e.g.: As a YA librarian, post about things outside the library zone, whether that’s food, art, current events, anything that may interest your teen patrons and allow you to be engaging yet neutral).
- Frequency – There is a fine line between being underactive and overactive. Do not repeat information for the sake of posting frequently, but attempt to post on at least a weekly level.
- Appearance– Not to be shallow, but the appearance of your site or page does matter. Make it easily navigable, and attractive.
Our reviews of nine different social media outlets and the authors who use them justify these social media rules. An engaging social media site does not necessarily ensure success, just as a stagnant social media site does not guarantee failure, but connecting to teens as effectively as John Green is a goal librarians and authors should aspire to.