Staying Professional on Social Media


It’s no secret that social media has revolutionized the way artists connect and share content
with fans in a way that was, up until recently, impossible without the help of a massive
marketing budget. Social media allows us to share our art and connect with potential fans across
the world without leaving the comfort of our homes. It makes us accessible. It allows us to
showcase our personalities in a way that lets people feel like they know us beyond the content
we create. That’s what we all really crave from art, anyway: that we’re part of something bigger
than ourselves.

But with the ability to freely share our content via social media comes the question: how
much is too much? How do we know when to pull back our personality and let the audience
focus on our content, rather than the byproducts of our content (the status, friends, collaborations that come with the art we create)? Of course, we could choose to leave our personalities out of the equation entirely and let our work speak for itself, but we have to face the reality that until we’ve established a reputation for ourselves within our respective creative community, we have to engage with the people who appreciate what we do. Without them, our content means nothing.

The first thing any artist should ask him/herself when creating is “what am I trying to
express to the world?” You can’t just float around trying this and that without putting down
roots and expect to be successful. Figure out your niche. What are you good at? What are you
pissed off about? What defines you from the rest of the masses? What do you want to change?
What do you want to inspire others to do?

You don’t have to change the world. Your niche could be simple, themed haiku poetry,
portrait photography, or animal activism. You could post beautiful photographs of the ramen you
make in your kitchen. You could be a filmmaker with a mission to figure out what it is to make
and keep people happy. It doesn’t matter. Just figure out what you do and how you’re going to do
it.

Look at Banksy. Look at Warhol. Look at Kendrick Lamar. Look at the Wachowski
siblings. All of them have one thing they did and one message they conveyed extrordinarily well.
I’ve thought about niche branding in relation to my own presence on social media. I’m a
writer with a focus on self improvement and personal growth, and a lot of the content I post is
linked to articles and commentary that reflect that. Still, I want my readers to see that I’m not all
talk and that I practice what I preach, so I also post lifestyle content that showcases the benefits
of living with a positive attitude. I want to enjoy myself and inspire others to enjoy themselves,
too, so (I think) I’ve figured out a way to share that aspect of my personality while still keeping
the emphasis on my work. If I have a bad day, I’m not going to turn to my Instagram account and
post a rant about an argument I had with my best friend.

Being able to keep the focus on your brand as a creator (and choosing not to publish
content that strays from that) is the golden rule of keeping a professional attitude on social
media. It’s simple. Figure out what you want to say through your art and your life and say it. When you’re tempted to get off-topic and share something that doesn’t reflect your values as an
individual and as an artist, don’t post it. Of course we’re all multifaceted with emotions that vary
from day by day. But we all have problems. Your friends and supporters don’t need to hear about
yours.

Another important thing to remember when it comes to maintaining professionalism
on social media is that thing rappers say and white girls like to say when they’re drunk: haters
gon’ hate. When you’re cranking out content and building a reputation for yourself, at some
point or another, someone will disagree with you. It doesn’t matter. Don’t engage it. You
keep doing you.

I remember a comment I read on one of the first articles I published on the first digital
platform I wrote for. The comment was along the lines of “this is just absolute trash.”
I didn’t think the article was trash, and because I’d written it from a heartfelt and genuine
perspective, my feelings were hurt that someone would go out of their way to criticize it without
so much as even giving me insight as to what was so terrible about it. What didn’t they like?
What did they find so offensive that they were moved to take time out of their day to make sure I
(and other potential readers) knew that they thought it was garbage?

And then I got over it, because I wasn’t going to let one comment derail me from the only
thing I really know how and love to do.

The most successful people in life support their friends and other creators they respect. It’s
why so many comedians, musicians and fine artists come up together. A rising tide lifts all
boats.

Art is a community, and if you’re going to be successful within your respective circle, you
can’t go around trashing others or taking offense when someone talks poorly about your content.
Don’t be a jerk. Don’t pay attention to jerks. The less attention you give them, the more you’ll
feel at peace when you create and share something new, because you’ll know that your success
doesn’t depend on their validation. Someone else who is more in-tune with what you’re doing
will love it. Plus, your haters are probably just jealous, anyway.

Finally, be genuine when engaging with people. Don’t say something you wouldn’t say if
you were speaking to someone face-to- face. Be yourself. No one likes a factory default, so if
someone says they dig what you’re putting out, thank them, and do it naturally and honestly.
Take time to think about the last time you complimented someone, and whether or not they
responded. If they did, you probably have more respect and feel closer to them. This is because,
at the end of the day, we all crave human connection, and a few words of grace go a long way.
Your presence on social media is an extension of you and your art. Remember that.

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