Social media is not about shouting into the void. You want to be discovered. The best way to be discovered by people who will care about what you have to say is to stand up and stand out. Stand up for what you believe in. Stand out with original ideas and takes.
Hot takes and sharp wit are not the only answer to the problem of how to get people to pay attention to you in the massive storm that is social media. You must create a unique online persona. Let’s look at how celebrities do it, because standing out is in their job description.
You may know Jim Carrey as a comedian and film star, but he’s famous on Twitter) for his politically charged drawings. His sharp social commentary forces you to take sides. He is standing up for what he believes in and standing out with original ideas. His eighteen-million followers may have started following him when he was making big Hollywood movies, but they have stuck around for his political commentary.
Ellen DeGeneres’s Twitter feed is a classic example of extending your brand into social media. It’s about her TV show. It’s directed at people who don’t want to miss anything on the show. Simple, right? What makes it different is she shows her gay pride. She is standing up for what she believes in, supporting others who are coming out, and standing out with her message. Ellen has more than seventy-six million followers on Twitter and sixty-four million on Instagram.
Oprah’s Twitter and Instagram feeds are examples of brand extension with a personal touch. Both feeds carry a clear message about living your best life. If you aspire to be Oprah, you will find inspiration there. She has forty-one million followers on Twitter and fifteen-million on Instagram.
You might argue that it’s easy to amass a big following when you are already famous. You’d be right about that. Oprah and Ellen are using social media to advance their social agendas and to promote their already strong media presence.
Let’s look at how not-so-famous people use social media. Phil Plait is an astronomer who uses the tag Bad Astronomer on Twitter and Instagram. He has a blog called Bad Astronomy. He uses these social media feeds to guide you to sign up for his newsletter which he offers via subscription. The newsletter is his home base. It’s where he wants you to go to learn about his books, appearances, and events. His sixteen-thousand Instagram followers and six-hundred-and-twelve thousand Twitter followers are enjoying his love of science and his idiosyncratic takes on space exploration and Star Trek. There are some personal touches in his feeds. Mostly, they are about his takes on scientific discoveries.
You’ve heard me talk about finding a home base for your work. Your home base is the place online where you want followers, readers, and viewers to be able to hire you or learn more about what you do. Although you can use social media platforms to promote your home base, those platforms merely point to your home base. For visual creators, that home base can be Ello, the online community for artists. Some writers and coaches use Facebook as their home base. If you already have a large Facebook following, using Facebook Live makes sense. Other creators use video platforms, like Vimeo and YouTube. The important thing to remember that you can have only one home base though you may have many paths that lead to it.
Many creators use Facebook as a mirror account, reposting their Twitter or Instagram feeds there. Facebook has become more difficult to use for creators unless you want to pay for ads to promote your own content.
I’ve used examples of celebrities because they have worked hard to polish their brand, to stand out, stand up, and be different. They have a lot of followers, but it doesn’t mean that you also need millions of followers to be successful on social media. If you have five-hundred followers who care about what you’re saying and posting, that’s a win. If you have a thousand or more followers who engage with you by commenting, reposting, or liking your stuff, that means you have enough online connection to get people to come to shows, sell art, listen to a podcast, or make some creative noise.