By now we have all experienced social media in some capacity in our lives. Some of us love it and use it daily, others of us only use it because all our family and friends are on it, and then there are those of us who are afraid of it or anti-social media for various reasons.
I’m here to tell all you creatives: Don’t be afraid of social media. Embrace it. Use it wisely.
Social media is a phenomenon that has been popular for a little over a decade now. I am part of the generation that grew up without internet or social media, so it didn’t come as naturally to me as some of the younger people for whom it is second nature.
However, as an adult, when I was obtaining my MFA in Writing, I began to have a brand new relationship with social media. One day, a visiting writer came to my school who transformed my thinking about social media. Her name is Virginia Heffernan. I heard her lecture and presentation. I listened to her read from her insightful book Magic and Loss, and I got to continue the conversation with her over some delicious Thai food with a couple of classmates and my professor.
I went home that night and recited everything I learned that day to my husband for hours. As I tried to explain to him what Virginia Heffernan was talking about, I had an epiphany and a complete change of mind about what the internet and social media meant to me. Her perspective on technology and the internet was so different from any other writers I had met so far that it changed my worldview.
The biggest thing I learned from her was that as a writer/artist/creative person, we have to look at the internet and social media as another form of our art. Each social media platform or digital content creation strategy is a way to express our art. We have to learn how to express ourselves differently depending on the platform we use.
I began considering everything I posted on social media, in Wikipedia, on my blogs, and anywhere else on the internet, as part of my writing portfolio. I became conscious of how I used the internet and social media as a professional platform.
I had this realization back in 2016, but just a couple of years later, today, we see resumes becoming obsolete. If you are a creative person, it is all about your online presence. Your resume is irrelevant if you have a strong digital footprint. Even if you have a solid resume, clients and/or employers still want to see that you have a strong online presence.
This is especially important if you are a business owner or an aspiring business owner. I make my own jobs based on what I put out on the internet on my websites and social media platforms. I never need a resume.
Just to clarify, I am talking about using social media and other digital platforms with a purposeful strategy and as a professional. These are a whole new set of skills that you will have to develop. It will take time, but will be worth it in the end.
There were many ways I was able to develop my digital content creation skills. One, way was through my MFA program where I learned persuasive writing, branding, and rhetoric that helped me learn how to use my words to control people's perception. I also read many books such as Contagious by Jonah Berger which is a research based book about why some things spread faster than others.
I learned from and researched people and brands who have a strong digital following, and finally, I practiced consistency. It takes years to learn and understand how this works and how to build a consistent online following.
If you feel overwhelmed by everything I have just shared with you or with social media itself, don’t worry. You don’t have to use every single social media platform out there. Find one platform that best suits you based on your personality, artform, expertise, audience, etc. and start with that. If you need help building your platform or just want to learn how to use social media and digital platforms in a more professional way as a creative person, feel free to contact me here.
Building a social media following, like any other craft, is about hard work and consistency so start small and only tackle what you have time for. Don’t be afraid of expressing yourself and showing the world how talented you are.
Go work your magic.
Thank you for reading! Please feel free to share your perspectives on this topic in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your relationship with social media as a creative person, especially a creative person of color.
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For my readers in the Atlanta area, I want to thank you all for coming to my workshops on the Atlanta Beltline last week! It was so great to meet all you amazing talented folks and I hope to continue to keep building with you all. For those of you who missed the workshops or don't live in Atlanta, the last one was a digital workshop on Facebook Live so go to the Prime Vice Studios Facebook page to catch that one (it has over 2,000 views and still climbing!). So once again, thank you guys for showing us love! <3
Next Wednesday’s blog will be more #browngirlwrites stories.
Happy Writing! :)
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Art by Loso F. Perez of Prime Vice Studios