Wednesday, May 10, 2017

On Authenticity in the Social Media Age

I know for certain that I am not alone in this struggle.  Maybe I should refer to social media as more of a dance than a struggle but there are many people around me for which struggle is the appropriate word.
Leaving Facebook, coming back, learning a new platform but being limited by its capabilities, not wanting to over-post but noticing others are missing information that you are sharing.  The problems are real, and they leave many in a state of limbo with little to show for what can sometimes mean hours of work.
Last weekend 31 artists gathered in West Kelowna for the first ever Studio Art Quilts Associates Western Canada Retreat.  I was fortunate to be part of this group and we had lectures, workshops and social time to share ideas and simply be in the company of other like-minded lovers of art and cloth. The theme was Out of the Studio: Into the Wider World, one of the presentations was Social Media Your Presence = Your Choice by artist and teacher Susan Purney Mark.  She outlined strategies for success in using different platforms and presented recipes for discerning your own level of involvement in the social media jungle.
I appreciated hearing the points of view of others in the group as well, some who gave their own tips, shared their concerns, or questioned the validity of certain choices one could make.
I was left with a lot to ponder, and with a determination to solidify my own platform without apologies.
With my own goals in mind authenticity is a huge word for me.  If I sense a lack of authenticity in anyone I follow on social media I either un-follow them or tend to ignore their posts altogether. My reluctance to post just because I have to comes from this sense of being true to myself and also wanting to avoid over-sharing.  I have no desire to bombard anyone with me, me, me.
The reality however, as it has been explained to me, and as I am noticing more and more, is that unless you post once an hour for 24 hours straight the algorithms in Facebook or Instagram make that impossible. People are more likely to miss your post than see it.
And so if my goal is to gain recognition in my chosen career my social media strategy is paramount.  It must be a bond between authenticity and exposure.  As Susan stressed in her presentation, systems help you manage where your content goes and when.  I am going to work on getting my system running smoothly so that I can spend less time agonising over small choices and feel confident that what I am putting forward is true to who I am in this digital age.

The photos in the post were taken on Lake Okanagon at The Green Bay Bible Camp where the retreat was held.

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