I’m groggy today so I hop on Instagram hoping to find my daily hit of motivation. Ashley Longshore, the irreverent New Orleans pop artist who’s as talented as she is funny, is filming a thunderstorm. Her voice is even keel over the rumbling sky and lightning flashes: “It’s a good day to paint.”
Boom. Suddenly I’m sipping tea, turning on the computer, and inspired. It’s a good day for writing too.
I’m grateful for social media. I love that women and men, but mostly women, have a quick and dirty way to communicate. A photo of a doughnut, a glimpse of a messy life, and an honest quip about self-doubt immediately infuses my day with hope and excitement.
But many women I’ve talked to say: “I want to use social media more, but I don’t know what to say.”
Influencers like Jenna Kutcher and Ashlyn Carter of Instagram fame suggest that it’s not enough to have an excellent service or product to promote, you must also share personal pieces of yourself to build a trustworthy and successful brand on social media.
You must be seen. Seriously seen. Put your face on the page. Not just your cute dog. And write about who you are and what you like.
One tip is to have a list of five things you’re willing to share: your love of tea, the color yellow, feminist artists, funky wallpaper, or your guinea pig named Boston. Repeat them in different ways over and over again, along with the product or service you’re promoting.
This is great advice, but it still paralyses some women. “What if they don’t like me?”
We’re not used to declaring our selves and our opinions so publicly and openly. We’re used to reading the room and offering up a side of ourselves we’re sure the crowd we’re currently with will approve. We’ve developed intricate strategies to be liked.
“I really like the new Riverdale.”
“Really? I can’t stand the main character and the plot seems forced.”
“Well, I mean I don’t love, love it. It’s just okay. What do you think?”
When we’re with people we alter our views easily to get along. But when we create a social media post with our image or opinion or simply stating we like bowling - we declare something of ourselves. Definitively. And this is risky, uncomfortable behaviour.
But also incredibly empowering when you get used to it. Because even though there are lots of mean spirited, judgmental people on the internet, (and in real life) who might turn up their noses at your interests, there are far more people who will see your guinea pig bowling beside the yellow Frida Kahlo wallpaper, take a sip of their tea and think YES! I have found my people.
With practice we get used to the vulnerable feeling as we struggle through the discomfort of exposure to take a stand or display our personal brand of weird. The end result is that people connect to our flawed human story enough to trust us and the product or service we are selling.
And when someone writes back: “this is just what I needed to hear today, I want what you are selling…” you have successfully earned your cup of tea. With your guinea pig.