Saturday, March 30, 2024

Tik Tok Trends - use 'em or lose 'em?


Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Tik Tok doesn't come naturally to me, as our other SFF 7 authors have also noted for them. But in the last year or so I've been trying to connect with readers on the app--because there are millions of readers on BookTok looking for their next read.

Just as readers go to Amazon to buy books, so readers flock to TikTok to discuss books. They're talking about their latest read, showing off their TBR list, and sharing funny trends and memes that have bookish content. Who wouldn't want to join in on the fun?

Well, introverted authors, or authors using pen names, might not love having to show their faces. Also, it can be challenging for those of us who are over the age of 25 to keep up with the fast pace of the trends. And there are so many users generating content that it is not easy to go viral without devoting a great deal of time and effort into the app.

Some authors seek a formula for success: use these words in your caption, make a book-flip-only account, post x number of times a day. The algorithm has its own mind, though, and what works for one author won't work for you. Although there is no single way to succeed, there are many ways to engage readers on the app. Trends can be a fun way to do this. 

When I started, I found BookTok follow parties were a great way to find like-minded readers and grow your following. The BookTokers I follow use simple and elaborate posts--some take no time to create and others can take hours. I've tried some of the easy kinds of posts that many BookTokers do: Meet the BookToker, Book Challenges, book flips, and book stacks, for example. Most of them can be done with a stack of books or even a single book. Others need you to stand and point, or lip sync to a sound. It takes time, but some authors say this time can be worthwhile to gain a larger following. It's rewarding to make short-form content--so different from novels!--and this creative outlet can provide more immediate gratification than book-writing does.

I'll never be someone who sets a trend, but it can be fun to participate in the community. There are lots of BookTok sounds you can find if you search "booktook trends" that can provide you with ideas. I've only dabbled in using costumes for posts, but I would love to do this more. These are more involved and I don't have the time while I'm teaching. Summer would be a good opportunity to experiment.

Proper BookTokers have a lovely full wall of books, but this isn't a requirement for everyone. TikTok doesn't want everyone to look and be perfect, it prefers authenticity and informal or spontaneous posts (even though many influencers devote a great deal of time to their posts). This approach is appealing to me. Sometimes I feel too chaotic and messy for Instagram, so showing more of my real self on TikTok seems more natural. I'm still getting comfortable onscreen and I haven't found my niche yet, but I've learned to focus on having fun and making connections rather than trying to make the perfect viral post.

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