It’s tough to soak up stories surrounding #BlackLivesMatter, rape victims, those suffering from terrorist attacks in other countries, or literally anyone who is unnecessarily suffering now. There’s a lot of negativity and sadness in the world, so it’s normal to be upset and want to express your feelings.
But what about your “professional” side—the side that’s maintaining your public profile to sell your services or products? What if you use social media for self-marketing purposes and not solely for personal relationships? How do you show your raw, real side on the internet without being off-putting?
I’ve been thinking about this, and I’ve come up with some ideas that help me personally, or seems to work for other bloggers that I admire. It’s about to get real here, so any comments below are appreciated and welcome.
Channel Your Mindset into Your Writing
The walls of tropes and idealistic characters are coming down, but we’re not quite there yet. But every step that you and I make in our work is a step in the right direction.
Many writers that I know and admire may be vocal about their opinions, but speak louder through their work—their characters. They indirectly teach their readers what should be considered good or bad in society without getting preachy or judgey.
I like Shannon Hale’s approach; she has a lot of strong female characters that value education. In her series, The Princess Academy, the characters value reading and knowledge as a way to stop big political issues that hurt their people economically. That’s very relatable to young girls who want to grow up to change the world. She’s also transparent about her “motives” on Twitter about empowering girls, and does it in a tasteful way.
There are so many issues out there that can be addressed with the arts. The best we can do is contribute to the good that we want to see. Tell the stories that empower people, rather than reiterate what we can’t change.
Keep to Personal Platforms or Close Friends
You’re probably already aware that social media is good for communication, but often it’s used as a platform for spewing hate speech. When the Orlando shooting circulated the news, I didn’t really know what to say that would sound meaningful, helpful, or sincere. So I didn’t post anything, nor did I change my profile picture to show solidarity.
Instead, I felt the desire to reach out to my friends that were actually directly affected by this—friends who once again didn’t feel safe after hearing about this tragedy. I felt like the words and sentiment went to the right people. You don’t always have to speak publicly about your thoughts to make them valid or heard.
Do Your Own Research
I can readily and gladly admit that I’ve only got a basic grasp of current politics. I just know that social media is biased, as well as many news sources. However, I’d rather read professional articles myself (from multiple sources and sides) to grasp the whole problem, rather than just read a sensationalized title and misleading photo.
All I’m saying is that if you do plan on saying anything remotely political or opinion-based, it’s good to know the whole story, and be prepared for what the other side of the debate might say. Be prepared with level-headed and thoughtful responses.
Cater to Your Target Audience
Do what you think matches your target audience well. There are topics that are worth discussing that shouldn’t be considered a turn-off for your readers. However, talking smack about political parties and candidates is probably never appropriate because most peoples’ minds are made up; it won’t help to argue for the moral or intellectual high ground. But, if people know you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community, or write novels with queer main characters, your audience already might look to you as one voice in that community that can talk about your side of the debate. Knowing your audience means knowing your options of where you can make the most impact.
Engaging in intelligent conversation and admitting your biases or ignorance could add to your website or product. It shows that you’re a real person with feelings and you’re aware of current events. Find a balance between being yourself, and keeping your brand and your target audience in mind. The worst that could happen is that people will stop following you because they think you’re being offensive—which may not necessarily be concerning, but it’s important to always be conscious of that audience.
Get Off the Computer & Do Something
Sitting at my computer and feeling sad for people across the nation doesn’t change much. I’m tired of feeling like there’s nothing I can really do. But I know that there are people I can talk to and find out what can be done.
Sometimes the online world can drag us down. When my eyes go cross from staring at my screen, I go outside, meditate, cuddle closer with family and friends, make art, or dance. Sometimes before we write the ranty stuff, we need time and perspective to help us deal with these nationwide and worldwide issues. We’re allowed to find a glimmer of hope and positivity when the world seems to dim.
If you have something you’d like to say, I’m here for you—as a fellow writer, friend, and human being. Also know that I too have much to learn about navigating social media, so definitely let me know if there’s something I didn’t get right or you have other ideas I didn’t mention. What are you passionate about and how does it reflect in your writing and social media life?