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  • Writer's picturesarahhawley

Navigating Social Media: Tips for Getting Started

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Navigating Social Media

It started out as a hobby with the possibility of it evolving into something more serious. I have had my blog for a few years now and with it, I have set up a Twitter, Facebook and Instagram page for my art and photography. It takes dedication, planning and time to maintain these pages, keeping them up to date with relevant and interesting content that I think others like me, might enjoy. I try to post on my blog once a month and usually at the start of each month. On the social media pages, I post images of my art and photography a little more frequently than the blog, but with less of a planned schedule. I can also use these platforms to share news such as events, like an upcoming art exhibition or any other exciting news that may be of interest to others. Personally, I have found social media to be a positive and beneficial experience. I post fairly regularly, but I don’t allow it to consume my life. I have found a balance that works for me, and I stick to it as much as possible.

Are you thinking about doing something similar? For this month’s blog, I chose to share a few things I have learned from having a blog and several social media accounts.

Image: A Twitter post about an exhibition that tags the library that is hosting the exhibit.

Social Media

Social media is usually in the form of apps that need access to the internet through an electronic device such as a cell phone or computer and are interactive technologies that enable the creation and sharing of information through virtual networks and communities. Social media is an online space where users create a digital presence on a platform which is known as your page or wall. Users have the ability to keep the content on their page private (where the user controls who they share their content with) or public (which is completely open for all to view). Posting content on a platform means that you create posts on your page for other to see, comment, share, and like. This enables the social connection or network aspect of social media. Also, there is often the ability to directly message or DM specific users in private (like email or text messages). Some common features of platforms on social media include user-generated content, in the form of posts that feature text, comments, digital photos or videos, and data generated through all online interactions. It can be a great way to share content about what is happening in your life as well as following the lives of other users, but before signing up and posting content, there are a few things you should consider.

Image: The @sarahhawleyart Instagram wall with posts of my photography.

What type of page will you create?

This will influence the type of content you will post on your page, and you will want to be consistent. Will this be a business page, a personal page, a hobby page? Depending on your answer this may also influence your decision to make your page public or private.

What will you post on your page?

The type of page you create influences the kind of material or content you will post. Earlier I mentioned consistency. If you are creating an account on social media for a business, you will want to post content that promotes that business. Don’t post personal content or other posts that are unrelated to that business on the business page. This can tarnish the professional image that you have created. If you would like to post personal content or other topics, consider opening a separate account and post the other content that is not related to the business on this second account. Being consistent also refers to when and how often you will post.

Who is your audience?

Who are you trying to attract, whose attention are you trying to get, who will be interested in following you and scrolling through your content. Is it friends and family, others who share the same hobby, potential clients/customers, or someone else?

Why are you posting?

What are the reasons behind posting the content that you choose to share? Post content that is meaningful to you, that you think others with similar interests will also find interesting or might get something from your posts. Don’t just post often to get the most followers, to get comments, a lot of likes and shares. Remember, it’s not a popularity contest. Posting unique, interesting content, often takes a bit of thought and time to compose. It is often these posts that are share worthy and can generate discussion. These posts are more likely to go viral, gaining more exposure if you are looking to attract more followers or find a community. Always think of the viewer and ask yourself if what you are posting might be interesting to others. Don’t follow trends online, be yourself and stand out from the crowd.

Image: Posting content that stands out.

Don’t just post something for the sake of posting, boring content and quick snapshots or selfies are a common occurrence on social media and many people will scroll past it without a second thought. Sometimes this type of content can be interesting, but if it is a common occurrence on your page, it will get old fast.

Before sending out that new post, consider who you want this post to reach? On the other hand, who don’t you want this post to reach? Posts on the World Wide Web will be there for a long time, so please think it through before you post, especially if the content of the post is something you may live to regret later on in life.

What is the best social media platform?

You should ask, what is the best social media platform FOR YOU and the content you wish to share. There are many options out there and it pays to do a little research to make sure you find the best fit for you and the content you wish to share. There are many options to explore including a blog, Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube videos, and more.

Images: Examples of my social media pages from left to right, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

For me, I chose to have a few different accounts that try to work together and reach different people on different platforms. My blog is on my website, and I post once a month. When I post a blog, I mention it on the other platforms like Facebook, and twitter with links to the blog to draw more people to my website. I will also often post images from my latest blog on my Instagram account to draw more people to the blog in a different way.

Other Tips

Engage with others, especially if they comment or share your posts. If other users take the time out of their day to share or comment on your post, take a moment to respond to them and acknowledge it. This is a little effort that can go a long way.

Tagging can be beneficial if you are looking to reach more users! Tagging other users or adding hashtags # to your posts will help draw people to your page or content and help you find a community of other users with a common interest. I would suggest to only add a few hashtags to each post, and make sure the hashtags are relevant to what you are posting about. Too many hashtags can be distracting or make it difficult to read your posts and hashtags that are too vague can direct users to your content which ends in frustration if the hashtag is misleading.

Image: An example of a post with a few hashtags

Posting just for fun? Then you don’t need to take it so seriously. No need for consistent post schedules or to seriously plan out the content you want to post, but I would still take time to consider what you are posting and ensure that it won’t damage your reputation down the line. Also, don’t get sucked into a rabbit hole of endless scrolling. Social media can be addictive and if you let it, it can take over your life and even impact your mental wellness.

If you are more serious about your presence on social media, Plan ahead and decide how involved you will be. Is it just a hobby on the side or will it become a serious full-time job or a crucial part of your business for you someday? How much time are you willing to dedicate to this project?

Be aware! Just because you post content that is honest and true, doesn’t mean that everyone else does the same. Don’t always trust content of others online. There are people out there who create fake accounts with artificial posts for various reasons. Some users create fake content because they are unsatisfied with their reality, others are insecure and want to make you jealous of the “great life” that they present to you through social media, while others are running some kind of scam or catfishing. As the old saying goes, if it is too good to be true, it probably is. Generally, if you have a relationship with someone outside of social media (in real life) you are more likely to trust the content they post because you know them personally, but if you don’t know them very well, then perhaps you should still proceed with caution.

Social media can get overwhelming. There is nothing wrong with taking a break from social media and stepping away for a while. Whether it is to recharge, escape the pressure or an unhealthy atmosphere that can develop online. At some point, everyone needs a break to stay in touch with reality and what is most important to you.

I hope these bits of advice were helpful to you. If you are considering joining a social media platform, I wish you all the best.

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