To Brand Build on Social Media or Not to Brand Build, That is the Question
This month on the I AM Series Blog, we are exploring voices—the ways we use, develop, and build our creative voices. In today's post, I'll be talking about my journey developing my voice on social media.
I bounce between two thoughts on social media.
1) “F*** this sh** I hate this sh** I refuse! Wahhhhh!”
2) “This is part of being an artist in the modern day and you gotta keep with the times. Just part of the job.”
There’s probably a third option to have fun with it somewhere in there, but I find I lean most often towards resentment. I tell myself I allow social media to TAKE from me, rather than GIVE to it. I will go to post something or comment on something meaningful, but get caught in perfectionist optimization and paralysis of choice (remember the series on Overcoming Writer’s Block?)...
I just scrolled mindlessly for AN HOUR?!?!?!?!?!!? Wasn’t I writing an article on how jaded I am about social media?
Perfect time for a tangent.
There used to be another modern development I had a love-hate relationship with: dating apps. I found them frustrating and disappointing--in part because I came in with big expectations and no knowledge of how to get what I wanted. I blamed the commodification culture, the dismissal of swipes, ghosting, so on and so on, without ever taking the time to introspect.
Then I realized, I have choice. At the very least, I can opt-in knowing what I'm getting into or opt-out clean and simple. I get to choose how to engage with these apps. A friend said to me, “It’s just a tool. Everything you bring to it comes from your beliefs and values.”
I got very clear on my beliefs and values. I got very clear on why I was on dating apps. When apps weren't working for me, I took long breaks to live my life. I had a clear game-plan and dropped most of my expectations. I went on some wild, awkward, what-was-I-thinking dates, but had fun trying out new experiences. I made a game out of it. I was patient and focused on getting to the IRL dates and re-framed ghosting, rudeness, and all the negatives in such a way that they didn't bother me.
I say all this because I found that my perspective, more than anything else, prevented me from opting in with the mindset needed to be vulnerable, open and alive, both online and offline. So back to social media. Maybe I’ve been approaching this monolith all wrong. I came to Instagram with no game-plan, no motive, no purpose as an artist. I wanted my page to have purpose, which only created a push-pull, love-hate relationship. My relationship with social media had been toxic and unstable. No boundaries, clingy, codependent, critical. I NEED YOU!!!!! Many days it still is. But now I have begun to think, maybe what worked in my dating app experiences could work here, too.
My most recent post on Instagram was about developing a better relationship with social media. I'm looking into hiring someone part-time to support me, since it’s not something I can figure out on my own. I started doing research and asking questions. I am learning to drop my expectations.
I have three rules going forward as I explore my creative voice on social media:
1) Set boundaries. How often will I post a week? How much time will I spend on a platform? Can this reply wait until tomorrow?
2) Let go of expectations. Show up to it and engage in the way I want to but expect nothing from it in return. All the issues I can complain about are not a reflection of my character or my worth.
3) Be clear in my WHY. In buzzword language: What is my mission on social media? If I don’t know why I’m posting, I don’t post it. If I’m unclear in my vision, I don’t post it. If it feels like I’m doing it because I have to, I don’t post it. I only post when what I have to say is in alignment with my vision for what I offer others, keeping social media as a tool to create community, connection, healing, growth, inspiration and empowerment. (Or have fun, as people do)
We'll see how it goes, but at least I'm clear that I get to use social media as a tool and not let it use me as a tool for advertisers and distractions. I will keep asking myself what is my end goal with this tool. If I am dissatisfied, I will step away for as long as I need to.
I look to my experience with dating apps as a sign of what works. I have been seeing someone for a few months now who has been everything I was looking for and more. If I can make the dating apps work for me, I can do the same with social media. As can you, if that is what you want.
How do you feel about social media? Let us know in the comments!
Brandon “Brando” Rumaker is the Director of Creative Strategies at I AM Series Global. He also facilitates the Artist Circle, where deep thinkers have deep conversation over delicious food, hosts I AM Series signature monthly event, and is the Editor-in-Chief of this blog! Please send all guest contributor inquires to firstname.lastname@example.org