I still remember my parents rewarding me with a cellphone at the tender stupid age of 10 with a Nokia 5190 hand-me-down. I was so stoked to just be able to play Snake, not use the tiki-box for reverse calls and be able to send long-winded emoticon ASCii SMS’s to my friends. It was totally all the rage… It didn’t take long for me to switch to a Nokia 3310, have all the latest monotone ringtones and master the art of feeding a Snake large enough to fill up the small matchbox sized screen.
Before I knew it, upgrades kept happening and the mobile phone got a whole lot more steezy. With mobile evolution came the social revolution. Without having even thought much about it, my mates went from texting to MXit, from MySpace to Facebook, from IM to Twitter, from Email to Whatsapp and from processing film negatives to Instagram.
Facebook hit the masses in South Africa late 2007 which could be accessed via desktop. Setting up my very first email account was a big deal but in hindsight – I wish I was smarter to have chosen my email more wisely because now I have about five accounts. With the excited whispers intertwining the crowded corridors and shattering lockers like a gale force wind, you could hear my peers asking, “Have you heard of Facebook? It’s like MySpace” and “Invite me to be your friend.” I was lucky enough to be a part of a generation that knew how to adapt to technology overnight, and still understand it’s functionality. Never did I think that I would be the kid to make a living from sitting on Facebook all day convincing people to become the larger part of all those buzzwords and phrases like, “Join the conversation” or “engage”. Alas, without having been at the forefront of a technologically savvy generation, all those things would have been rendered useless, and I’ve still been fortunate enough to learn many things.
1. It’s OK to not know:
It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind. You hear people speaking of #SONA2015 whilst making their morning coffee with sour milk in the office kitchen. I’m not ashamed to say that my main source of gos each day is from Twitter. Just because I work in social doesn’t mean I know what Taylor Swift ate for breakfast or if Juju decided to wear red undies to Parliament.
On average, Adweek says that an active social media user can be exposed to over 285 pieces of content in just a day – imagine your mind constantly having all it’s Chrome tabs open. Your eyes are seeing more content that you’re able to comprehend and by the time you’re ready for bed, you fail to “shut down”. It’s OK to admit that you haven’t seen that viral neon cat video (Not now, I mean back then. If you haven’t seen it by now then shame on you!) or the rivalry between Van Damme and Norris.
2. Not everyone in Social Media is funny:
I’ve seen this happen a few times recently. It’s like being back at high school where your skirt is either too shirt or not short enough, your socks are rolled instead of folded and of course the iconic look of absolute disgust from the scowling eyes of the popular crew giving you the evils as if to say, “You can’t sit with us!”. I attended a seminar the one day at work and heard a phrase that has stuck with me for a few years now that I have found to be pretty damn accurate, “Facebook is for the friends you went to school with but Twitter is for the friends you WISH you went to school with”.
I feel like Twitter has turned into real-life Mean Girls, although Social Media is much like that of New York in that it never sleeps, people are constantly on the look-out, especially on Twitter because of the pathetic lifespan of a tweet in your feed, and that they’re literally waiting for you to either deliver the best 140 character punchline or be the next sad example of Justine Sacco. Being a self-righteous troll on social media and hiding behind a handle/profile doesn’t make you funny. it just makes you a dick. Don’t be a dick and stop trying to make wearing pink on Wednesdays a thing. It’s never going to work.
No. No you can’t use that in a hashtag.
3. Being strange is expected:
I’m an only child who indulges in wandering the park by myself, taking mini-roadtrips to Harties on a Sunday or hibernating from the world over the weekend with Gossip Girl Marathons (Finished all 5 seasons, every weekend for a month and not one bit ashamed).
I will not apologise for being fiercely independent and strange, I will not apologise for having the ability to recite Baldrick’s poem from Blackadder Goes Forth and I will not apologise for not knowing how to twerk. White girls need to stop trying to own that shit. Just staaaahp!
Learning to embrace my peculiarities through social media has only made me more comfortable with myself. I don’t really care if you don’t understand my fascination of drinking milk out the carton – I’m in Social Media bitch!
4. It’s out there now, bro! You can’t take that back:
I keep trying to get my friends to understand that they all have personal brands. Their Twitter account, their Facebook profile and even their blogs are direct extensions of them and what they stand for. If you’re not proud of your drunken night outs, then don’t post them. Future recruiters are out there and you’d be stupid to think that nobody has tried U-Googling you.
Zoolander knows, so why don’t you?
A few things happened recently in the socialsphere and many of them are questionable. Shit happens, we get it but, there’s shit and then there’s SHIT! News24’s recent social faux pas should not have happened in the first place. The Community Manager should be double/triple checking what they’re willing to be associated with. I feel bad for the person but the truth is, it’s out there now, bro! Everyday people managing brands on social are asked to take that risk, it’s a monumental responsibility and I’ve learned that it’s the kind of responsibility that not everyone is capable of handling or deserving of handling.
5. Social media is like a doughnut:
If you haven’t seen this yet, then please – treat this as your Social 101. You’re welcome.
It’s no secret that I love photography. Flashing For Money started as an ODMA project and began as a challenge at first that soon evolved into a part-time love affair. I’ve always loved photography, my dad used to give me full control of Fuji as kid knowing you couldn’t erase the mistakes like digital offers now.
I was asked by Dave Duarte in an ODMA session along with the rest of the team, “If you had three extra hours a day, what would you use them for?”, for me, the answer was obvious… Photography.
I started using Flashing For Money as a second job to make it through the month financially and eventually I started resenting my passion because it became a chore. I realised toward the end of last year after taking a year long sabbatical, that I needed to fall in love with it again. I had to do the shitty things, like family portraits and maternity shoots with my less than sufficient equipment before I could think of the cool things.
I don’t want to do photo-booths for the rest of my life for a quick buck. I want people to see my art, love my art and appreciate my art the way I wish it to be. But being in the social media game has helped me to understand the process of awareness not just for my clients but for myself. Word-of-Mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool and social media is just an on-line extension of that. I rely on the recommendation of my friends and family to endorse my passion of photography and I hope that one day, I’ll reach the point where people are buying my photo’s because they see me, they can understand my brand and they’re happy to be associated with my work. How I represent myself and how you should be representing yourself on social media, whether you like it or not, is a direct reflection of who you are, your friendships and your morals. So, the next time you take to social media, remember this, “Think before you speak and Google before you Tweet.” Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want to be associated with or be embarrassed about a year from now when your TimeHop buzzes.