Social media is a place for bonding. I tell stories and share happenings while keeping tabs on my family and reconnecting with friends from seasons past. It's a place to meet fellow creatives for the first time and to explore a whole new realm of inspiration at the click of a button (or scroll of the thumb). Clearly, there are many ways to use it, so why can't we embrace that fact and let it challenge us?
At first ponder, I know it's difficult for me due to comparison issues and FOMO (fear of missing out). It's about maintaining a follower count or the engagement rate. We do this because we want to capture moments in the best possible way because social media has become our keepsake for memories. There are also tactics for becoming "Insta-famous" and getting fun perks—and who doesn't like "free stuff?"
Nevertheless, I know it's easy to see through the hyper-stylized viewfinder and scoff. It happens, regardless of the reason: jealousy, pure concern, annoyance. But today, I write to say it's possible. It's possible to tell an authentic story in a beautiful way, highlighting the ups and downs in a creative and compelling image, caption, and bio. (Yes, staged and hyper-stylized.)
Even still, checks and balances are needed, for one cannot rely solely on "comments conversation" to build a real friendship. One must take the online offline, and do it regularly. Otherwise, authenticity is lost and the name calling and scoffing continues.
This is one of the main reasons I like exploring coffee shops and other public meeting spaces. I'm looking for well lit communal spaces that are staffed with wonderful, diverse people who care about others—and who care about "the in betweens" of life.
So while the hashtag #liveauthentic may have become an overused way to increase one's potential for "likes," I do leave with a challenge of doing just that. Know the goal, listen intently as conversation moves, and excitedly take opportunities to build out various social platforms in a personal way. There is no one "right way," and that's the point: be you.
Here are some tips towards kickstarting this movement:
- Know why each platform is in the posting deck. (Is Instagram for friends or for fashion? Is Facebook for events or family photo albums? Is Twitter for movie and television or tech talks? Focus your efforts around certain interests and post accordingly.)
- List out the target audience and listen to what they say. (Are the posts for #menswear or #cityscapes or #travelgrams? Don't hashtag posts for the sake of the "like potential." Relevant tags geared towards a specific audience help move conversation in a natural way.)
- Seek inspiration from all over, but don't simply copy. (Just because something worked well for a mega-poster doesn't mean it's going to work exactly the same way for you. Pictures of the brunch scene don't work for me in the way they work for others, but I still brunch. Regardless, be inspired to try new things; just keep in mind the overall goal.)
- Find the right niche. (This is something I'm still figuring out, but it's more easily determined through watching and testing in a reasonable way. Don't sporadically post; post with purpose and simple hypothesis. Once the vibe is established, it'll be easier to scale in a natural way, allowing the follower base to grow too.)
At the end of the day, post with intent, understanding the reason for doing it in the first place (similar to writing a thesis for a paper). Seek ways to capture scenes how it should be portrayed and don't stress about the rest. If things don't perform well, don't let that be a paralyzing factor. Learn from the post by seeing it as more than a post—it's a portion of the overall story. And stories ebb and flow.