Right, before we start if you haven't read part 1 then please read that first of I'll sound (even more than I already do) like a mad woman! And as I promised at the end of that one, I'm trying to be concise, so I'm not repeating myself.
So... after all the polls I asked a question...
Why do you use social media? What is its purpose, to you personally?
Now in honour of the fact that I said I wasn't going to out anyone and that I'd keep it all anon, I'm going to summarise the most common answers, in order.
To share the journey you are on with your horse, for yourself and for others
To meet like-minded people and support each other
To track/store your memories all in one place (often, specifically away from non-horsey people and their judgey ways....)
To learn more about horses/the horse world generally from others
So after all the do's and don't's and "rules of popularity" that people spouted etc (detailed in part 1)... effectively, you're all on here to, in one way or another, make a connection. That's it. Its that simple. That is what social media is built for, its built to make connections. Yeah the media says its evil and ruining all our lives... but whatever, that might be right sometimes, I know, shut up, its actually not that bad if you know how to use it, it really is just about connections. Now a few specific ones to highlight to reinforce this and that I found particularly interesting were things like...
"because I thought I was the only one who *insert literally anything here* and then I found other people"... So in the context of my last post, if we were all conforming and sticking to these rules of perfection... how would we find those other people that are "weird" like us? And in this context I cannot say it enough, you are not weird. You are probably very normal. But... If we are all pretending to be something other than ourselves for popularity, how would you make those wonderful connections that help you feel like you're not a massive bloody weirdo!?
"to share what I'm doing and to see how its different to others, so I can learn from that/help others"... again, same dice. If all that we all just trying to do is jump as big as possible for the clout... how are we ever going to learn from each others different views, techniques and ideas... or teach others by showing ours?! I'm not saying you can't jump big for a laugh, I'm just saying, don't torture yourself and think that's what you have to do. Just do it if you genuinely want to, or don't, whatever! If we all are trying to follow the same rules and be the same carbon copy version of "social media success", you lose all that value of what makes you, you and what you individually can bring to this community.
So after this, I went on a wholesome AF rant about the most influential and special thing you can do on social media is BE YOURSELF. Yes, it sounds like I'm over simplifying it... and to be honest I am, I make a living out of writing strategies for how to use digital marketing and I don't have a one slide presentation that says "Just be yourself babes!". Of course there's more to it than that... but what I mean is, please stop listening to people telling you need to change yourself to be successful in this arena, its just not true... the success of any social media strategy will ultimately be determined by if people connect with you, and if you genuinely and fully keep "being myself" as your deepest, core foundation... it is a lot easier to connect with people. "Why? Are you sure, Vic? That sounds too easy?!" I hear you cry... Yes... here's why.
Ever met someone in real life and got on SUPER well, really thought you're good friends, you respect their opinion on things and have a laugh... and then you see them in front of other people and it's like they got switched out with a completely different person and you're just like huh?! what?!... doesn't feel great, right? Then they come back to you and go back to the first version of themselves as if nothing happened? And you're a bit confused which one is the real them, it makes you uneasy, so you kind of believe who they are or what they say a little bit less every time? When someone isn't genuine, or you think and trust they are but they aren't consistent with it and so prove they are not, it changes your perception of them and everything that comes out of their mouth from that moment onwards. So if you're trying to build a following but constantly change who you are to fit the "rules"... lets just say it doesn't often work. People don't like it.
Now, I want to make something VERY clear. Like with any game, there are ways to cheat. I can say all this and you can go "well you're clearly not an expert because here's this account who does none of what you say and has 30k followers"... yes. You're not wrong. You can buy followers. You can do gain groups. If you're 12 and at school you can get all your friends to follow you. And yes, there are massive accounts that do all the things I'm telling you not to and have big followings. But... not one single one of you in your "why I do this" response said "to have lots of followers!" so your argument is moot cos according to you.. that's not the primary thing you want! According to you, you don't want empty numbers, you want connections, journeys, learnings... and you don't get any of that by going for quick wins!
"But Vic, we didn't really mean what we said, we all secretly hope we are the lucky one who makes millions and can give up our day jobs and just play ponies all day, we just said that stuff before to seem like good people!"... okay, no one said that either, and I wouldn't judge them if they had... but lets be honest its true! We'd all love that! I would! I agree whole heartedly with the sentence I just said... I want you to all think I'm wholesome and just talking about my pony but fuck that I want to make a shit tonne of money! Let me whore out my horse for financial gain! (In a nice way!)... And yes, there are some magical people who get both! Massive, genuine, organic and connected followings of people that give them huge opportunities... the dream! So, how did that happen? What makes them "better" than you if its not how high you jump, or what brands you buy... why are they the lucky ones?!
Well, to start with, they aren't better than you. A lot comes down to just that, luck and timing. A lot comes down to the fact that some people are naturally more relatable than others... you know that girl at school who was friends with everyone without trying? Scale that up to the whole internet and, hey presto. Some people are so open that they just naturally connect with a lot of people... some of the biggest influencers in the world will say "I honestly don't know what happened, I was just bored and started putting things online, I never ever thought this would happen!" and that comes with its own challenges (hello, imposter syndrome calling!) but it might just be that they expressed something that everyone else was feeling, in the right way, at the right time, on the right platform. And the match caught. And the fire spread. Now, I am not by any way diminishing it... its hard work, it takes a lot to be successful in this arena and open yourself up to people in that way, and especially to maintain it. That, in itself, should be valued. But the point I am trying to make is, just because someone else has that and you don't, it doesn't mean they are better than you or that they fit these "rules" and so the algorithm favoured them and so you need to change, its just not the case... And most of the time, it doesn't matter what you do or don't do, its out of your control... so please, please don't torture yourself about it, sometimes... they were just lucky.
However... like I said, we all want to give up our day jobs and be millionaires (or smaller goals but similar vibes!) and there IS strategy to this madness that you CAN use to help.
So, I asked another two questions (for the sake of ease I'll mash them into one!)...
Even if its not your primary aim, do you currently or would you like to in the future, use social for more than just the 4 points I began with? For example personal brand building, working with brands/sponsorships, actually making money from content, building your business etc, or building a platform a big enough where you can genuinely effect positive change by spreading messages you feel passionately about?
... the biggest result of the whole thing... 88% of you said yes.
So yes, okay... primarily, we want to connect with each other and share our journeys which is fab, to do that we need to be our genuine selves, but we also want to get some value out of it (without getting into this cycle of "fitting the algorithm" and driving ourselves insane and feeling like we aren't good enough)! And to do that, you need to build good, genuine, real connections with a good enough amount of people to spread your message and utilise opportunity, create and share impactful content... and ideally become a millionaire while we're there. This is where building yourself an effective social media strategy comes into play.
Okay... that's the end of part 2.
Part 3, I promise, will be "okay, I've slated it all, I've ripped it all apart, I've told you all why everyone's wrong and given you some mum-level pep talk about being yourselves (as if that's easy in itself!) so... what ARE the actual rules, where do we find out what's true, and how on gods green earth do we use them?!"
(I feel like this pic is you guys as Zarry, looking at me in a confused, tired and slightly annoyed way and I have ranted for long enough at this point... and there's me... carrying on... hoping you're still listening... using hand gestures to make a point...)