Four things I have learnt on social media

Day 6: Winter Blogging Challenge

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Happy new week everyone! Welcome to day 6 of the winter blogging challenge where I will be writing every day for 22 days. I must say that I really find the topics engaging and therefore, I have not struggled much with writing since I began the challenge. Today we are focusing on social media and four things that I have learnt from it.

The power of choice

You can choose to use your social media platform for something positive or negative. To build or destroy. To motivate or discourage. It is your platform. It is disheartening how sometimes humans choose to destroy each other on these virtual platforms, fighting to win the title of a keyboard warrior. I always wonder how people can fight with strangers on the internet, it is the strangest thing but it is happening. People are being cyberbullied and shamed on social media. The latest in South Africa is the hashtag #MustFall where anyone who says something the masses do not agree with is basically cancelled. When they advocate cancelling someone, this often means encouraging people to stop listening to the person’s music, stop watching their shows or supporting their craft. This often happens to celebrities and public figures. It is tempting to think that there are a lot of bad things happening on social media, but I have also witnessed powerful, motivating and inspiring things happening. The #BlackLivesMatter movement, the #MeToo movement, the #FeesMustFall movement, just to name a few. These have been powerful moments of solidarity and oneness among people from different places, joining together to fight injustice and oppression.

The power of digital communities

The second thing I learnt from social media is the power of digital communities. COVID-19 showed us all that the world can go digital and I have jumped on that wave. People are finding support groups, book clubs, blogging and writers communities, and even gossip groups. Whatever your thing is, I am sure there is a group for it somewhere. I have personally benefitted from the following digital communities, just to name a few:

  1. Afrobloggers, which is the blogging community that brought about this wonderful challenge. 
  2. African Scholars and Writers– this is a group that started with facilitating writing retreats during the lockdown. We log on to Zoom and write together in solidarity. This is mostly for scholars working on academic writing. 
  3. Lingnan Sisters WhatsApp Group– this is a group of Christian sisters that started at my former university in Hong Kong. It is for spiritual support and upliftment.  It helps me to connect with my Christian sisters from a distance.
  4. Family Matters– Last but not least, my family WhatsApp group. My mother lives in Zimbabwe so this is the best way for her to have access to all her children at once. That is an amazing tool because sometimes we will discuss family issues together as if we were all at home. It does not take the place of physical proximity, but with globalisation and economic challenges in Zimbabwe, many families have been separated and this is all we can do to stay connected.  Thank God for WhatsApp video calls as well, we can get to see each other. 

 The power of networking

Social media has also taught me the power of networking. There are a lot of people who  have gotten jobs and contracts by using their social media wisely. I use my social media, particularly Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to talk about my work, especially with postgraduate students lately. I sometimes post my publications as well, academic or personal. Through networking, I have met so many like-minded people who have become either friends or potential collaborators. I am still learning how to use social media as a business tool to get paying customers for my side hustle, but this is a work in progress. What I have learnt is that one has to be authentic and also consistent with the posts. It is not always about followers, but also providing value that can impact people’s lives. When people follow your social media platforms, what are they getting from you? Some people use it for comedy and random talk, which is also fine because maybe that is their brand. Some people use it to relax so they will be talking about anything of interest to them. Again, the power of choice comes in. You choose what you put out there, also remembering that people do not forget. The internet will save your racist or homophobic tweets from way before and they will be brought out when you’re trying to do something big. I choose to be cautious on social media. 

The power of online marketing

I mentioned this briefly in the above point. I have just recently started learning about using social media to market products or a brand. While this is something I never learnt in school, it is a skill that one can actually learn. At first, I was hesitant saying that marketing is not my thing, but there are so many free tools available on the web that make it easier. I have learnt that there is so much that is involved with marketing online, but social media is just one aspect of it. Some people are making money off their social media pages because they have mastered the art of online marketing. I am just starting, but I hopefully will get to a comfortable place with this. As with anything in life, it takes dedication and practice. 

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These are the four things I have learnt from social media. I cannot wait to read about what others have learnt so that I can also learn from them. 

Have a great Monday.

GG


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