Let me start with an employment-related fact and then discuss how this relates to author branding.
More employers are doing social media background checks and are turning down candidates based on what they find.
This doesn’t mean that people should avoid social media all together. Rather, it means that social media must be treated as a sample of professionalism. Companies that specialize in social media background checks actually have access to messages that aren’t made public, comments, and more. Scary; but it is what it is.
When a social media background check reveals unprofessional conduct (e.g. signs of not getting along well with others, negative comments about former employers) or evidence that contradicts the resume, these red flags are likely to deter employers from hiring.
However, when a social media profile looks professional and displays excellent communication skills, this tends to be an asset. Creativity and a touch of personality may help, too.
Readers do various sorts of social media background checks, too.
Many shoppers will glance at the customer book reviews. If they see authors making negative comments about former readers, this falls under the “bad-mouthing former employers” category. It doesn’t look professional.
Potential customers read blogs, tweets, Facebook author pages, etc. A shopper who discovers the book on Amazon probably isn’t going to do an extensive background check, but may explore the reviews and author page. Nobody is likely to read all of an author’s social media messages.
However, many potential customers will discover the book through one of these methods. It might be a blog, could be a tweet, etc. Perceived unprofessional conduct (e.g. bad-mouthing) may deter sales. Professional posts with excellent communication skills that show creativity and a touch of personality are more apt to boost sales.
What a potential customer sees when checking one form of social media and how this customer reacts is not much different from what a prospective employer would look for in a job candidate.
Remember, although readers probably aren’t going out of their way to do background checks on authors, potential readers are discovering authors through their marketing endeavors. What the potential reader sees in this discovery process serves as a “background check.” Is it a red flag that may deter sales, or is it something that is more likely to inspire sales? Think author branding.
Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers