“Social media.” That elusive title for the elusive concept that real connections and sharing your many likes and dislikes via the world wide web are actually a good idea.
I know that sounded a little bitter (!) but don’t you sometimes feel pushed around by social media? It’s not as fun (as it feels) it should be sometimes. And plenty of users have expressed anxiety, peer pressure, and bullying stemming from the roots of it.
When I once typed in the words “social media” in Google’s search bar, eight of the articles on the first page highlighted its “political power”, how it was “fueling gang wars” and former AIC corporate employee Justine Sacco‘s most stupid decision ever to tweet disparaging comments about oversea nations (including this gem of: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”).
And speaking of its power, our love/hate affair with social media, however, hasn’t stalled its paramount influence in the new day practices of sales and marketing, news and product updates, general promotion, and the classic daydream of obtaining fame. (Or shall we be honest and just say “infamy.”) Possibly the main reason why social media may not feel as flighty or relaxed as it once felt it was is because evidently there is an actual science to how we should be posting our memories and our interests.
Social media research has suggested that certain accounts and pages are more popular than others, especially on collage style platforms like Tumblr and Instagram, is because they are curated to a specific theme. The word “curate” is it in the worlds of the media, arts and journalism, so bear with me in its repeated usage for an article like this!
If a user really aspires to gain followers or to be a part of a movement, “curating content” is one of the most effective ways of getting in. Curating distinct images, words or designs actually makes sense if you’re trying to gain traction as an influencer. (Buzzword!) But most everyday users prefer to just stunt and show off on social media than express themselves as online visionaries. If pointing fingers, it is the legend of FOMO that is the culprit of why so many of us are not thoughtful or creative enough with our posts as we can (or should?) be.
From SearchEngineJournal.com, Julia McCoy wrote: “Content curation, I believe, is a foundational key to how to both create (from scratch) and share (other people’s work in your industry) great content your fans and followers will engage with and read. In a world of over-saturated content, it’s hard to find great content and know where to start. With the right tools and the right way to go about it, I think curation can hold the key to a better content future in 2015.”
In order to really cultivate your presence on social media, you shan’t be too random with what it is you post. This is demonstrably queen if the platform you choose is also visual (We Heart It or Pinterest versus Twitter). If you get many a kick out of reckless memes, be ruthlessly reckless and ratchet to a fault. If you’re super into capturing scenic landscapes and want to be viewed as a go-to photo album, stick to it and literally get adventurous.
Sticking to a motif, brand or type has worked greatly for former MTV star Lauren Conrad, who was recently chosen by AdWeek Magazine as a “Social Style Queen” for her delicately curated social media pages on Pinterest, Instagram and her popular beauty and home decor websites, The Beauty Department and LaurenConrad.com.
There’s no need to front about the fact that having already starred in both Laguna Beach and The Hills on MTV would’ve granted Conrad at least 2 million followers on Instagram. But she currently has 4.4 on IG and 10.7 in total on social media. She’s also open (for business and brand purposes) to using newer apps like the live-streaming Periscope, which she did for her first New York Fashion Week show.
If you’ve heard of Conrad and witnessed the unexpected miracle of The Hills, she obtained a huge fanbase from it but was criticized for being “basic.” The Starbucks drinking, super dry fashion sense, basic kind of girl. Conrad was the original Piper (of Orange is the New Black, but minus the bisexuality). In 2009, as indexed by Wikipedia, Thomas Rogers of Salon.com labeled her as “one of the dullest major characters in reality television.” Maybe she was dull. But she was being herself and Conrad’s lack of a need to be the center of attention through flamboyant means made her likable and relatable to lot of the young girls that watched The Hills. And those fans have grown up with her since she’s parlayed reality TV popularity to a chain retail fashion and accessories empire, impressively.
Her social media accounts are as classically feminine as her red carpets outfits. In AdWeek, Emma Bazilian described how Conrad keeps it cute. Literally: “Conrad is judicious about what she posts online, as evidenced by the carefully curated collection of rose-tinted photos that make up her massively popular Instagram account. There are pictures of her friends and family (including numerous shots of Conrad and her husband, lawyer William Tell, looking blissfully in love), perfectly arranged entertaining scenes (flower-covered tablescapes, vintage china and pastel cakes are recurring themes), travel posts (many from picturesque seaside locales) and, of course, photos of Conrad herself, modeling designs from her Kohl’s collection or higher-end Paper Crown contemporary line.”
Further on: “Conrad freely admits that the level of perfection found on Pinterest can even make her feel inadequate at times. She is unfailingly positive and encouraging on both her website and social media outlets. Recently, she banned the word “skinny” in an effort to combat body-shaming.”
So in remaining true to her just a girl from SoCal demeanor, Conrad conceded that keeping up appearances on social media is naturally tiresome. But the bigger goal of having a presence, brand, and place for her loyal fans to go is important because they should alrady somewhat in the know of what to expect when she releases a product or new post has been uploaded. Sounds dull, but it works in Conrad-land.
When you visit her IG page, you see that she is serious about her passionate businesses. While she and husband Tell are featured, there are very little pics of them. Everything is posted for a reason and even the food and drinks pics are not casually reposed and are handled and lighted a very certain way. Conrad doesn’t even post every day.
So curating your social media turns posting into a responsibility, but take a look at Michelle Phan‘s Instagram and you realize just how cool that task can be. She doesn’t cater to YouTube, the platform she gained her original 8 million subscribers from based on makeup tutorials, as much as she used to. Since 2007, she’s launched her own makeup line through L’Oreal called “em” and before that, she was a spokesperson for Lancome USA. But if you go to her IG, where she has a steady 2 million followers, she has been translating a purposeful rainbow palette under the scope of an ethereal dreamer, shadowing her pictures in vibrant hues from marigold to violet purple. It looks really fantastic and is arguably more creative than Conrad’s perpetual “rose-tinted” display. Even if you’re not into makeup or haven’t heard of Phan, you may feel an urge to see what else will she add to your online easel board.
For most influencers, vloggers, and bloggers, they often just stick to the plan of posting about their chosen profession or subject, and the most common ones are cosmetics, sneakers, desserts, fashion, or more compulsively, celebrities and selfies. Curating content is a way of life if you care at all about social media.
Not only does it take a lot of time to gain traction with followers (nevermind keeping them), it takes further effort in figuring out how you want your social media to visually express who you are to the congregated group or niche you are seeking. Conrad recommended to AdWeek: “If you wouldn’t say it in front of your grandmother, it’s probably not a good idea to post it online.”
But can we also admit that sometimes it’s a huge relief to just post what you want, right? Happy curating!