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  • darcy marie melton

How social media has helped and hurt me professionally

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the positives and negatives brought to us by social media. Social media comes free in exchange for all of your personal information and access to your private thoughts. But anyway, let’s talk about social media and being an artist, marketing, inspiration, and competition.

I recently added Twitter to my relatively small social media portfolio of Facebook and Instagram. I expected the Twitterverse to be largely negative interactions that would make me leave soon after signing up. I was wrong. There is a nasty side as there is in everything, especially the Internet, BUT I have been surprised to have been welcomed into lovely art and writing communities. My Twitter feed is full of #writerslift's,[1] #artshare's,[2] tweets asking for advice to break writer’s block, and artists sharing their works in progress. I received my first social media based commission on Twitter. Let me explain why this surprises me, I thought that I would receive much more attention through Instagram and Facebook verses Twitter.

Instagram is a photo based social media. One little square and a comment with up to 30 hashtags, you would think that an eye-catching image and diverse but specific hashtags would put your post in front of hundreds of people idly scrolling through Instagram, they see it, double tap, and you’ve got a like. Alas, this is not the case. The 2020 Instagram algorithm doesn’t really support the little guy in my opinion. The algorithm is literally constantly changing and what you see in your feed is based on how you have engaged with posts in the past. Meaning, Instagram puts in front of you what it thinks you will like. Sounds great, but what if your posts aren’t receiving many likes? They are pushed farther under that mounting stack of flash and color put out be bigger Instagramers and influencers.

Facebook, controversial Facebook, who owns Instagram by the way. On Facebook you can post pictures, videos, and captions. Everything you need to showcase your work. As a small artists I have made most of my sales to people who live in my hometown. On Facebook I am also friends with a lot of people from my hometown, but this doesn’t mean positive sales conversion. The people I’m friends with on Facebook, typically are not the ones purchasing my art. Facebook marketing is a possibility but without a large customer base already, wouldn’t be profitable.

Twitter limits a tweet to 280 characters. That means you have 280 spots for letters, spaces, and hashtags. The community is what sets Twitter apart. Strangers engage with each other based on hashtags which helps people like me find a group to share work and get feed back.

However there are a few common difficulties that I’ve had with all three: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. It’s not so easy to be seen as someone who doesn’t receive a lot of likes and who doesn’t have many followers. I do get the most interaction on Twitter and have grown my following fairly quickly. Next, social media is so distracting! I think we have all probably fallen into the black hole of scrolling through posts endlessly without realizing how much time has passed. This takes away from time I could be creating, working, or doing anything else. It can leave me with a twilight zone feeling when I return to the real world, like waking up from a strange dream.

Which leads me to my next point, the negativity that comes out of me caused by social media. The worst of which is envy of what someone else has accomplished. In an instant I can feel a fiery envy, which is often quickly replaced by happiness for someone who has accomplished something they worked for. Emotions can flip in an instant to a mind floating in the online social ether.

Inspiration also comes from seeing others accomplishments, their creations, and positivity they are putting into the world. A community pride for someone who has finally finished a big project, published a book, or won an award. A fellow artist on Twitter created two amazing portraits of famous actors and asked the Twitter community to help boost him up so that his work could be more widely seen. I was so excited when he later tweeted that one of the actors retweeted his portrait. My last takeaway from social media is that it has been a place for me to affirm to myself and to the world that I am an artist. It has forced me to take pride in my work and show others what I do.

Social media is valuable to me for sharing my work and being a part of a community I would not have had access to otherwise. But it should be taken in small doses.

[1] #writerslift is a hashtag in a Tweet to indicate to writers that this thread is a place to comment with their work and follow fellow writers who have also commented. This helps writers find and follow each other and bring the community together. [2] #artshare much like #writerslift is a hashtag in a Tweet to indicate to artists that this is a thread to share your art. It tells artists to comment with their work, follow others, and grow the artist community. These threads will often begin with the original poster sharing their art.

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