When I decided to become a full-time freelancer a few years ago, I knew social media would be a crucial component to my growth. It was the most accessible tool I had to free marketing when it came to my ideas, content, and often times, aggressive outdoor voice.
I used Instagram as a visual and verbal diary, airing out my period blues and big bold dreams with all the accompanying hashtags in hopes of reaching that one person across the globe who’d empathize. I’d swear, talk about bodily fluids, my weird ex boyfriends – it felt liberating! I had no idea the same platform that served as my dumping ground would become a source of income for me a few years later with brand partnerships allowing me to stretch my creativity and challenge myself as a producer and talent in ways I never thought possible! It’s been a wicked fun time.
However, I’ve learned that collaborating with brands means you have a different set of expectations to consider. It also means you’ll have more eyeballs on you, even the hateful ones. I’ve been auditioning for 11 years now as a multimedia host so I’m used to critics BUT trolls who shit on you for being you is a different ball game.
Posting for the hell of it is one thing but when it becomes a part of who you are as a brand, you might find yourself in a position where you feel like expressing yourself fully is a tough thing to do. I recently found myself in a rut because of this until my manager slapped me in the face, NOT LITERALLY, but with some much needed real talk.
Me: I don’t know if I know what I’m doing anymore because I’m starting to censor myself and I don’t want to. I swear more than sailors do and I’m cheesier than a Nicholas Sparks novel, but I feel like I to pick and choose what I say so I don’t get shit on or get fired.
Manager: You’re playing it too safe.
Manager: If you are fully authentic, you could lose partners and attract more haters but if you’re not, you’ll stop enjoying your life. So, start saying what you want and see what doors might open.
I haaaaate to say this but he was right! This conversation really got me thinking about why I started using social media in the first place and the intentions were far from safe because being yourself whole heartedly, is and will always be the biggest risk we take. Admittedly, I have been playing it safe lately because I’ve been focusing way too much on potential backlash.
What happened with Logan Paul is an easy and relevant example. A creator who refers to himself as the “Maverick,” certainly lived up to the title when he posted a video in Japan featuring a dead body, and a video of himself tasering dead rats shortly after. Although Youtube has resumed ads on his channel, he’s still on a 90 day probation period and can’t get premium Google Preferred Ads for the time being. Common sense, isn’t as common as we think. There’s always a professional line and being your most authentic self 150% of the time will likely put you on the other side of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I value transparency but I don’t know if I should be writing about that time I hung out at home in a robe, coughed, and inadvertently pee’d myself. Or maybe I should? If I do, will that upset my mother? Or a partner? But what if I do and I get to partner with Dove to share a similar story that will resonate with more people?
Social media was created to connect the world but it’s turned into a mental game for those of us who need it to build their brand. There isn’t one way to play it or one way to succeed. Just like the outfit you pulled together in the morning, there IS an element of strategy in your social game if you’re a creative trying to make it in 2018. And like that outfit, not everyone will necessarily like your creative work.
So what do you do? I don’t know.
Instagram might not be the place for me to talk about my urinary mishaps or a destination to put my rainbow coloured lexicon on display every day BUT my manager is right when he says I might be playing it too safe. Maybe I don’t have to know what the consequences are of being a foul mouthed television personality. Maybe there is a viable career that can come from experimenting. I don’t know but I do know that as a creator your work won’t resonate with everyone. I also know that I’m not the only one who’s still trying to figure it out, so I’m going to start rolling the dice to find out.