Social media is incredibly important for any cosplayer looking to gain attention and create an audience of similar nerdy types.
The most famous cosplayers have huge social presences. Yaya Han has over two million likes and follows to her page. Jessica Nigri has over four million and gets over ten thousand likes to every image she posts.
You might not have Yaya’s figure or Jessica’s armor, but you can have their social media ability. Here are a few rules to improving your social pages and getting connected with people who think you’re talented.
1. At first, you’ll need to tag a lot.
I know, it looks stupid – and you’ll feel like you’re stretching for attention. The unfortunate truth is that you are stretching for attention. While you want to tag a lot of things, experts say that too many tags gets spammy and reaches less people.
Where is the breaking point? I recommend tagging the character you’re cosplaying, the series it’s from, and one or two generic cosplay or fandom tags. This allows you to reach out to people who have these interests without clearly pandering for attention.
The unfortunate truth, even in the business world, is that very, very few pages get any organic following. While a business can boost their page by paid advertisement – which you can do too, by the way – I have a feeling you’re a little strapped in cash and don’t want to spend $7 a week to get more followers.
2. Plug in your social outlet wherever possible.
This one is huge. If you saw a page on Facebook that had zero likes, would you be the first to do so?
Especially well known as the Reddit hivemind, people almost never want to go against what the public seems to be doing. If the public seems to be avoiding your page, it’s pretty likely to continue doing so!
You need someone to be your first and it’s pretty likely it’s your mom. Or your roommate, or your best friend, or your cat’s Instagram account.
My highest recommendation for this is to create cosplayer business cards and give them to everyone you meet. Vistaprint offers one hundred cards for under ten dollars and gives you free templates. You should be giving out these cards to anyone who asks for a photograph or meets you in the hallway. I wouldn’t recommend giving them to someone you approached, however, unless you had a lengthy conversation and a good reason to keep in touch. You don’t want to seem desperate for likes.
What should your card have on it? Your name, your social media handle, and a picture of you at the very least. Your photo will help people remember who you are, why you’re interesting, and how to find you later.
3. Always post an image.
This goes without saying on mediums like Snapchat or Instagram, but on Twitter and Facebook need images to be eye catching. It’s too easy to scroll past a wall of text – or even just one sentence.
You need images to catch someone’s eye and make them stop, look at the image, and then read your post for context. A good practice is image editing, including adding effects or text to an image you post.
For example, Yaya Han “borrowed” this graphic from MegaCon to illustrate the content of her post. The text in the image gives everything the reader wants – who will be there, where they’ll be, and when they’ll be there. Yaya goes on to describe what she is excited for and planning to do at MegaCon, but her audience is first interested in the basics through the image before hearing her details.
4. Call to action for engagement.
You don’t want to be the page with hundreds of likes but no comments on anything. That’s just shouting into the void. I like shouting, and I like voids, but that isn’t what your social page is for.
You need engagement, which is the academic way of saying you want to create a conversation with your followers.
The best way to do this is to pose a question at the end of your post. Do you agree with my opinion, followers? Post your thoughts in the comments. You need to make sure you’re responding to any comments people put in so they don’t forget what they said and the interaction you had with them.
Another way to call to action is by linking another site (preferably yours) where followers can get more information on what you’re talking about. In my next point, I’ll talk about posting tutorials to your pages. This is a great practice for engagement because your followers can go off your instructions and show you what they’ve made by your lead.
It is absolutely vital to respond to people conversationally. Don’t act like a brand posting on a public page, act like a human being responding to someone who thinks you’re talented. People who are responded to will remember the exchange and want to give further interaction in the future. Much like the snowball/hivemind effect I discussed earlier, once you get that first interaction, you’ll get more people chiming in.
Finally, you’ll want to give people a way to privately contact you. On Facebook, it’s as easy as turning on Messenger for the page. You should always be checking your direct messages on all platforms and responding quickly to show your followers that you are interested in their opinions and want to connect with them.
5. Help other cosplayers.
The biggest audience for a successful cosplayer is other less famous cosplayers. Until you get into real fame like Jessica Nigri, you’ll mostly be followed by people you meet at conventions that like your work. The best way to appeal to this audience is to show them how they can recreate something you did.
You’ll generally have a good idea of what people are impressed with by your convention attendance, but if you want to write a tutorial on something you haven’t gone out with yet, a good practice is to document your progress on larger pieces.
For example, I’ve yet to post my progress on Falchion, but I know that swordmaking is a difficult process that many people may want to replicate. I took photos throughout my process to illustrate a tutorial I have yet to write and a finished photograph. Anyone else planning to create a Falchion can use my resource and follow me for future tutorials that can help.
6. Find your niche.
What separates you from the other cosplayers – why are you so special that others should follow you?
You don’t necessarily have to be really especially good at something, but you do need a niche to separate you from the other thousands of cosplayers on social media. Even if it’s something everyone does, like cosplaying on a budget or writing fan theories on Ace Attorney, the fact that you post about these things separates you from others who don’t. People who are interested in what you post about will follow you and then become interested in your cosplay work.
It also falls back to adding images in your social posts. You catch someone’s eye with an image of your cosplay, but then the content of the post itself should be something original and interesting.
For example, look at the image above. Everyone has used hot glue on their cosplay at some point, and we know it! The post first catches your attention with the image itself, but you need the text to connect it back to my image. The image and the text should explain each other – one should not rely completely on the other.
7. Make your work meaningful.
Find a cause, whether it’s as broad as worker’s rights in the textile industry or body image in animations.
If you’re going to find followers in social media, you need to be a leader. While people might not necessarily see your potential as a popular cosplayer, they see a cause they believe in and follow you to show their support. This is incredibly common in the business world. Would you rather show support to a sandwich store that just makes sandwiches, or one that makes sandwiches and feeds the hungry?
And while we’re at this, you might as well follow my Facebook page. You know… Just in case you’re hoping for more help posts like this.