I have been asked to share my tips and thoughts on building a presence online.
I’m not the best person to decode the technical wizardry behind platform engagement and I also make a lot of mistakes and can’t seem to get to grips with the frequency of posting that’s recommended, but I am proud of the high levels of engagement I’ve built and the positive relationship I have with social media as well as an entirely organically grown community that has been built from shares and word of mouth.
Here’s how I’ve applied my playful mindset to overcome some hurdles, connect with people and enjoy the space!
1. Think about who’s in your playground
Think of what is coming into your space. If you spend a lot of time on socials then who you follow are all contributing to your lens on life. Choose a play squad that uplifts and inspires you, look for accounts that:
2. Embrace the cringe
You’re going to have to get out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s putting your face on the grid, having a strong opinion or talking on stories, it’s more than likely at some point you might feel like a bit of a plonker. When you do, push through. Tell yourself it’s good you’re getting out of your comfort zone, you’re learning so there’s no need to a pro and also you can make your own rules. Don’t overthink it – done is better than perfect.
3. Experiment and make your own rules
If you start investigating how to win on socials you’re going to come across lots of ‘rules’ and ways of doing things. I find this incredibly dull and uninspiring. Whatever your reason for being on socials I’m going to assume it’s something you feel passionate about. That you want to explore in more depth and find new ways to communicate it and share it with others. I can’t think of any other realm where there are so many proven ways to follow a formula to do this. If you consider the context of how long social media has been around and how quickly it changes, it always seems odd to me that there are so many formulaic ways of doing it properly. Make your own rules. Experiment with your own voice, content and audience.
4. Have an opinion
Probably the thing I hate most about speaking on IG is that after feeling that you’ve offended someone or people will misconstrue your messages. And I think it’s easier to just accept both those things will probably happen every time you open your mouth. But that’s ok, as long as you’re not being nasty or offensive it is important to keep going with your opinion. People don’t want to engage with beige, they want to be stimulated and think ‘that’s interesting’, wow, I hadn’t thought of that, I didn’t know that, I could have a go that. Those are the reactions people seek out so say something that feeds those mindsets.
5. Open up and be a real human
Social media – the clue is in the title. People crave connection with other people and perfectionism is increasingly pushed back on. If your account is about you then I think being multidimensional is important. You can have an overall tone and energy, but those moments where you put your hand up and say – hey, red flag over here, got some stuff going on or you share a bit about challenging experiences are important parts of storytelling and people being able to get to know you more.
6. Be a master, not a slave
It’s easy to find IG a grind – another post to put up, more hashtags to use, more, more, more. Be aware of the slippery slope to feeling like a slave to your device. If you break down what’s available on IG it’s actually quite fun – taking pictures, writing some nice words, pissing around with gifs, interacting with people. Don’t forget that the core elements can be creative and fun. Make time for them – book them in and give yourself proper time to do a bunch of images or a few pages of captions, really get into it and enjoy the creative flow. Doing this is always so much more enjoyable than tapping into your phone at 8pm because you feel the pressure to say something!
7. The world still spins if you don’t check-in
Boundaries are everything if you’re going to be able to play at this. Attune your mind to know that if you don’t post one day, all will be well. Taking breaks can be refreshing for you and your audience. I do believe that if you’re feeling negative vibes when you create a post by some kind of magic – people just know it. Wait until you’re up for it and create content because you have something to say, show or just because you’re motivated to do so.
8. Make friends
I’ve really moved on from thinking it’s weird to connect with people online. I have chats with so many smart women who are funny, curious and also very encouraging. I’ve received some messages that are so heartfelt it’s kept me around for years. Reach out to other creators, tag them in your comments, send voice notes to your followers, add a personal touch, be open to new people coming into your path. And be sure as hell to block and move on from anyone who does the opposite.
9. Ignore the numbers or gamify it
Relationship to numbers I feel changes with your goals and how long you’ve been at it. Be aware that more followers might mean more opportunities but it might also mean less fun. I tend to either ignore follower count altogether, because engagement is way more valuable anyway, or I play with them and set goals and really go for it.
10. Sharing is caring
You have to create something that is shareworthy. Everyone will tell you that and it’s an experiment to find out how that translates to your content but it’s just true. My account has only ever grown from other accounts sharing me. It’s the biggest thing that has spiked growth. And it’s both big and small account sharing that make a difference. When I glance back up this list, and at my most shared posts they have almost all of these things in common. When I’ve been relaxed and experimenting, when I have an opinion I express boldly and energetically, when I open up and show vulnerability – this is all shareable stuff. When someone shares something it’s a bit like collecting bits of IG that represent you. Someone’s feed or stories is a collection of things that mirror what they think, what they aspire to, what lights them up. Your audience are already here for you because you can do all those things, it’s just a case of putting it into a killer post, a sexy reel, a well-articulated video for them to see that reflected back.
Good luck and stay playful online!