How are we using social media for good?
Humans thrive and survive on community. Our phones are like an extra limb, an extra organ. We sleep next to it, and keep it in our pocket. 24 hours a day. 7 billion people are on the planet, and 6 billion have a phone. More than have access to clean drinking water or electricity.
By Mandy Barker
But, what are we doing with these tiny and powerful devices in our pockets? This is the way the world has changed. Good or bad, it’s the next chapter. Being optimistic, there are so many opportunities if we use it in the right way. We can connect with people, and build communities. We can make change. Geography and location is no longer a barrier.
Using social media in the right way is difficult. We compare ourselves to others, become obsessed with how many likes we have had. Want to post the perfect picture. Get anxiety after we have posted it. We’ve all being there. Still are. It’s a conscious and constant effort. How do we come away from this? How can we build communities and how can we use it for social good? We need to stop trying to be perfect, stop trying to emulate others, and start being ourselves more.
Coming away from the ‘perfect post’ is more human. It will show authenticity, bring connection, debate, togetherness and community. What we’re are here for. We can now create communities in a way that was not possible before. And communities provide the platform and foundations for creating social good.
Images: James Victore, Sail
An example of this is IWeigh. We have been working on the branding and design for Jameela Jamil’s Iweigh movement in LA, a platform that inspires activism and wellness. It started with an Instagram story shared by the actor in March 2018 in which she listed her likes, passions and achievements instead of her body weight – to stand against popular culture. Showing what you stand against is a way to be authentic. The community has organically grown and now has a following of 1 million. Yes Jameela is a celebrity with a fanbase, but she had the courage to start sharing real insight into the celebrity life and pressures, which made her relatable and authentic – and reach new people. She used her platform for good. Through organic growth of the audience, IWeigh now have a team of people, they have positively influenced social media policies and are now campaigning for national policy to be changed at congress level.
Image: Cynthia Kittler, Sail
People want to feel part of something. Documenting your journey is a way to make people feel part of it. It creates ambassadors (the strongest marketing tool ever). It is also much more practical than curating it. Don’t just share the great things, share the climb. We must stop being scared of getting it wrong, it’s part of being human, and shows authenticity. Allow yourself to be human and you open up people into your world and your values. Think about who you are, and where you want to be. You are your brand. Your personal profile is an opportunity to strengthen your professional profile, your brands message and what you stand for. And what you stand for (should) comes easy!
Image: Sail Creative
This is something I experienced back in 2016, before I set up Sail. I was at Offset, a design festival surrounded by creatives-similar to today. I found a community of people that were making self employment, and their passions, work. This is when I decided to leave my full time design job. I quit my job with £800 in the bank and went for it. My first project was self initiated – Words Bare. It was an exhibition highlighting the experiences that the LGBTQ community still face today, and it was far from perfect, but it was my project, and it was a way I could share part of my story and what I cared about, where I could be myself and connect with like minded people. I didn’t know it, but this was the start of me building a community through authenticity. I found people that cared about the same thing – LGBTQ rights and creating an equal society. I used social media to build momentum, collect stories, connect with people, and promote the project. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was myself, had passion and enthusiasm, worked hard and it was a success. The exhibition ran for 3 years. I made lots of connections. This led to our first project at Sail – branding an LGBTQ arts festival, Curious. Building on community has gained trust, and created advocates that have got Sail to where it is today, and we are growing.
Image: James Victore
It worked because I used social media to build a community, to connect to people. It wasn’t about looking like a ‘thought leader’, ‘polished’ or an ‘expert’ it was me showing my passion, and being human. Not perfect. I documented my journey, I didn’t necessarily plan or create. It set a standard and ethos for how I wanted Sail to be perceived. It validated there was an audience for what we do.
Images: Sail Creative
It’s more important than ever for businesses to be human on social media as it’s so easy to be boring and blah. People buy from people. Passion and enthusiasm is more memorable than being an ‘expert’. Audiences and clients get that we are learning. Let them be part of your journey and growth. Be authentic, be relevant, start conversations and connection will build. There is no right or wrong. And there is no formula. Don’t let perfection hold you back. Brands are more about imperfection than ever.
Image: John Holcroft
Ask yourself the following: how do use social media now, how can you change it? How can you build community and impact social good? What gets you excited? What do you stand for? What makes you angry? Start saying it. This is your purpose. Get this right, and audiences will find you.
Image: Sail Creative