Monday, 2 July 2018

be the change: the culture of social media

hey all, i've been doing a lot of thinking lately about my presence here on the worldwide inter-web. it's a very different creature to the one i first started out with, it's changed and morphed into something far more complex than i can quite comprehend. hence why i've been spending time trying to get my head round it. why do i find myself on it constantly? should i be on it as much? what is it for? is it changing my personality?

if you're interested in the way social media shapes culture, i hope you stick with me on this one. and at the end of my "conversation" i've listed a few tips on what i think YOU can do to change the way the internet works for everybody - how you can make it a positive and encouraging place where people feel better about themselves. as well as letting you know how i'll be moving forward with things.

what a difference a decade makes

firstly let me address how i think social media has changed since i first logged on to the world of "social" 9 years ago with my first blog posts and YouTube videos.

when i started there were a couple of simple formats in which people could share content, and they tended to choose just one or two platforms - usually a blog and a YouTube channel, and then sometimes a Facebook page or Twitter (if the community wanted it or the following was big enough and depending on the content). and then along came Instagram...

instagram has evolved, not just in itself with all of it's algorithm changes, but it's also evolved how we use social media, and how we perceive it. since it's start as a simple daily photograph sharing space, it's now become so professional, it's given creative people a huge outlet to share their content that didn't really exist before (Flickr and Picasa weren't really that user friendly or shareable). and now i think lots of people perceive social media as a place to have a full-time career, building their own business and become social "celebrities".

5 years ago when i was creating a lot of content and a lot of buzz about my journey with natural beauty there weren't that many of us out there, and now the YouTube world is saturated with content and (like Instagram) it's high quality content too, which is hard to keep up with if you aren't a videographer, don't know an editor or have the time to do proper editing yourself (because you're a full time mummy, wife and running a home), and you don't always remember your snazzy video camera (and you still take most of your footage on your iphone).

i find that getting any engagement is super hard work. to me it seems like people are engaging less than they were 5 years ago, and on a YouTube video i'd usually have received about 5% of views as comments, i now receive about 0.5%. perhaps this is more a reflection of my changing audience and the different sort of content that i create... perhaps i don't 'cut the mustard' any more.

the great things i still love about social

the main thing i really LOVE social media for is the way it brings together like-minded individuals, who would probably never have otherwise found each other. particularly for more niche interests, like green beauty, or plant-powered eating, or gentle parenting (which all now, thanks to social media, are much less niche and more main-stream).

i love that you can search hashtags on instagram and easily find people who are similar to you, who think like you do. this is such a major reason why people are so attracted to social media. it makes us feel less alone. that 90s teenage movie character complaining that "no-one thinks like me, no-one understands me" is a thing of the past. if you are a teenager of today, you can find these people. and if you can't find them, you can attract them by sharing how you feel and what you're up to.

one of my favourite things ever is when i get an email or message from someone who has seen a blog post or a video and they want more advice on their particular situation or they just want to thank me for it in particular. i got a lot of these emails after my 'no sex before marriage' video, and then i got a lot of loving personal messages after my blog post about Rose. i also get a lot of questions about breastfeeding, diet/gut health and acne. this is what social media should be for, and what i always think it should be for - connecting with others around you, sharing wisdom and giving advice from friend to friend. not in a professional way always (obviously), but as we would've done centuries and centuries before us, chatting with our internet 'neighbours'.

THE reason i stick with social media, even when new algorithms drive me crazy, is because i believe the best way to learn is through the experience of other people. it's why i like to share my story, share things i don't like and why, things i love and why, places i've seen and experiences that i've found challenging. so other people feel more normal and challenge them to think in new ways. and i love that so many of my friends have chosen to share their stories in blogs and posts too, because it is encouraging and uplifting to hear every type of opinion and experience.


the problem with social media

the problem with finding these people who think similarly to you, is that, when you do it's far TOO EASY to feel like you don't match them or that you can't live up to their standard. which is actually all too easy for any of us to do, whether you're my husband following the latest car releases on YouTube and being bombarded with the latest technology. or you're me and you are following so many beauty channels that you feel like you're always out-of-date with the latest product releases and trends.

it may not feel like you're being bombarded with advertising, but as someone that used to work in "social media marketing" i can tell you that it's one of the most powerful forms of marketing out there, as it's super subtle and people actually sign up to it. in the world 10 years ago, Google Ads ruled the internet and that was THE way to get your business message out there, it wasn't personal. now we have visual ads that people are often choosing to scroll through, making companies seem more real. it's incredibly powerful.

and instagram and YouTube are both encouraging their content creators to think more business-like, allowing them to work more easily with brands, choose adverts on their content and encourage paid/sponsored adverts on personal pages. which isn't inherently a bad thing, but...

what do you DO it for

...for me, i find that being able to see all the analytics, the amounts of likes and dislikes, the number of comments, the type of comments, the number of new subscribers, well i find that it can really easily drive me crazy! it means that i can easily switch focus from the positive to the negative. i forget that the whole reason i create content is really as a creative outlet for myself, as well as a way to spread positive and encouraging messages out there and put a smile on peoples faces.

anyhow, the biggest thing that i want to say is that i feel like there are lots of big 'celebrity' YouTubers in the news lately, discussing their break-ups and holidays, their latest makeup product launches and their opinions on motherhood. and i think all this publicity is creating an impression in millennials that YouTube can be an easy job. but i can honestly tell you it's one of the hardest things to do - to live up to the standard of your surrounding competition, write content, edit videos, reply to comments, upload content. do you know it takes me about 3-5hours per video? and more if it's something longer and more complex. which is a challenge when you've got a toddler pulling on your hand to come play.

the other thing that i want to say is that i think a lot of people start on social media and then develop a following and feel obliged to continue posting even when they aren't feeling super inspired. and that's the challenge for me at the moment. without enough interaction from my "community" i don't feel like the effort i put in is worth the outcome, but i also appreciate that a lot of the reason for this is because i'm not feeling inspired myself, so how can i expect to make engaging content?! anyhow, i've taken many breaks from YouTube in the past, and i've taken a couple of social media holidays before too, but then i've always come back and done exactly the same sort of thing, because i feel like it's what people expect of me.

"what people expect of me" ?? how weird is that.

ok, really as well, as a stay-at-home mother, with a husband working 12hour days, i get super bored. it's something to do. it's something that slightly challenges me but doesn't scare me. i feel like it somehow is keeping ME alive. but it doesn't really. not really, because i put out content to make a conversation but there isn't one - or at least not really with me anyway.

so, this all boils down to 2 things:

  • firstly, please know that your interactions matter, people that share content on the internet would like your feedback - so see the ideas below on how you can help keep the community-side of social alive!
  • secondly, i need to focus on figuring out who i am, who i'm made to be. that day a few months ago changed me in so many ways that i don't really understand yet. so i need to give that more time. real time. and life is busy enough with a 2 year old. i want to be sharing messages with you that are encouraging, inspiring and uplifting, rather than just sharing my latest favourite moisturiser - LIFE is so much bigger than that, and i want to use any influence i have for something more meaningful. but i don't know what that looks like yet.

YOU can be the change

so, here's my tips on what you can do to affect the world of social media.
  1. you have to believe that SMALL THINGS YOU DO MATTER. the world can be changed with one simple smile, whether that's literal or a thumbs-up or smiley face on the internet.
  2. stop being passive. TAKE PART. if you watch, read or listen to content, BE THAT PERSON who leaves a nice comment or review. obviously we can't do that on every piece of content we consume - do it when a blog post or video makes you smile or think, or you recognise it's changed you in some small way. that person deserves some recognition.
  3. consume less content and CURATE IT more. if you notice that you haven't been commenting or engaging with someone you're following consider either whether you've missed some of their content (thank you algorithms), or, if you're up-to-speed perhaps just consider unfollowing them. make sure you're engaging with content you actually like.
  4. SHARE. there's a distinct lack of sharing the love on social media any more. we need to get back to "Share the Love" posts where we share people and posts that inspire us. let's create an outward-looking community. and it's really easy - just click "share".

so, there you have it, my ramble, my rant, my thoughts on how social media has changed in the last decade, how it's improved and what i think it can be for. and i really hope you have some positive takeaways from this that you go on to implement in your own life. and on your own smartphone. and please let me know in the comments below your thoughts on social media at present, because i think it could be a really interesting discussion ;) x


2 comments:

  1. Alissa, you are so right! This post really resonated with me. I mainly create content to share my experiences and to create a conversation, as you said, but it's not often that actually happens. I love creating content so I'll still always do it, but I only get a small amount of interaction really.

    I'd love to post more about the bigger things in life but I know people follow me for beauty posts, so I find it hard to talk about other things as that's not what people expect of me. Hopefully one day I'll be able to :).

    I often wonder why I don't get many comments but then I'm also guilty of reading posts and not commenting myself! I think it is because there is so much content to digest that we move onto the next piece without digesting the previous one fully. Especially on Instagram when it's so easy to just keep scrolling.

    I love your ideas of how to change my habits and I'm definitely going to start doing them more (starting with this comment :)!) I especially like the idea of numbers 3 and 4.

    Thank you for such a thought provoking post Alissa. It's definitely made me think about the way I see social media and I'm definitely going to start making an effort to interact more.

    Kayleigh x

    https://hazelnutmusings.co.uk/

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment Kayleigh! It got sent to my moderation box and I've only just checked it, so sorry for the hugely delayed reply.

      I'd encourage you to start posting about the bigger things and see what response you get - often I find the more people know me the more they interact, plus I'd love to see/read them!

      I agree with what you say about the amount of content that there is to digest, it is SO much and I think it overwhelms us more than we think. I hope you have already found your journey through social media to be more fun, relaxing and enjoyable since implementing 3 and 4!

      Alissa x

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