Straddling generational lines.
I’m going to be thirty-eight years old in a few months. I come from a generation that knows what a pong set-top box is, remembers life before VCRs (let alone DVRs), and knows that a PS/2 is both a video game console by Sony and the third generation of PCs made by IBM. I played tag outside and downloaded songs from Napster. My first computer had a cassette drive and less memory than your coffee maker. I stand on the cusp of two different worlds. I was raised with computers, but still know life before them. I’m neither 100% digital (I finally faced facts and digitized my CD collection), nor 100% analog (I hate hand-writing anything). I am not always cutting edge technology wise, but I’m not clueless either.
I think I stand in a unique position; if I were slightly older, I would be less digitally inclined and if I were slightly younger, I would be more immersed in the digital world. It was only when I got into real estate that I finally broke down and got on Facebook. I had avoided the Myspace craze (although my band did maintain one – all I ever got out of it was a endless stream of “thanks for being my friend” comments and spammer wanting to advertise their wares) and didn’t really see the point.
Friend or acquaintance?
To me, a friend is someone special. They are the type of person I call just to say hello and see how their lives are going. I spend birthdays and holidays with them. I want to tell them good news when I have it and often share bad news with them when it occurrs. They knew me personally and I care about their life – past, present, and future. We are friends and not just acquaintances.
Acquaintances are those people I meet in passing. I might see them regularly, but there isn’t necessarily a connection. There is a step missing that brings them from acquaintance to friend. Sometimes that step materializes, sometimes it doesn’t. An acquaintance is someone I would be more than willing to say hello to, perhaps even share a cup of coffee with, but there is a level of separation between us. I don’t share my secrets with them, I don’t tell them about my personal problems, and I wouldn’t invite them to Thanksgiving dinner.
So who’s what and how do I know?
With the integration of my digital and analog selves, I’ve had to look at the word friend in an entirely new light. I have lots of friends according to places like Facebook and Twitter. Even on AgentGenius I have a lot of friends. Right? Wrong? Ugh, how confusing. Last week, I wrote about dropping your motives and embracing the people around you…making meaningful connections. This helped prompt Ken Montville’s “Your Client Doesn’t Care: A Contrarian View” in which Ken opined that your clients don’t care to be your friends, they just want your services (and excellent ones at that).
I don’t disagree with Ken…at least not at face value. However, my opinion, much like my generational status, straddles a fine line of definition. Are the clients, strangers, customers, consumers, and denizens of the internet my friends or simply acquaintances with a new title? Does the word friend often get confused with the word acquaintance?
The people in my sphere of influence can be from either group. For some, I know more about them than I do about the average person – there is a slice of “care” in the definition. Sure, I care about all my clients, but this is the kind of care reserved for friends that I have known for years. For others, I care for them as a client, but I wouldn’t necessarily invite them to my wedding. There is a difference. Could they both be called friends? Most likely they would, but there is a definite difference.
In our online world of friends and followers you could easily make a Venn diagram that shows how some online friends belong to your social network of friends (as defined more traditionally) and some to your network of acquaintances.
The Lost Art of Acquaintances.
With so many friends around us, maybe the art of being an acquaintance is being lost. I like for my clients to be my acquaintances – more than a stranger, but not immediately a friend. They may become friends, but that point is irrelevant. The point is to know them better than a stranger. To not walk them through the door of my office, shake hands, sign the paperwork, and thank them as I collect a commission check and head to the lobby to greet my next client. To get to know them a bit. To talk to them on a personal level. They might shop at the same grocery store as me or love my favorite restaurant too, but that is not what they’re seeking (agreed Ken). They want me to be the best real estate agent on the planet. To ignore those common-bond ties though is to deny any level of human relationship, something I think is counter-productive to both work and life in general. My clients might not want to go to my favorite watering hole for a beer, but they might feel more comfortable knowing we share a common interest.
So don’t aim for best friends forever status, but be the acquaintance. Be the one who knows more than the stranger. Be the one who shares a common interest. Take notice and care, yes, but there’s no need to throw yourselves at them screaming and pleading “Be my friend!” I never meant to suggest you have to take your clients home to meet your parents, but you should know your client…at least as an acquaintance.
photo courtesy of StuSeeger
Reels: Why Instagram can’t compete with TikTok… yet?
(SOCIAL MEDIA) The future for Instagram Reels is uncertain, since even Instagram has acknowledge that TikTok is far ahead of them, but what does it mean for their future?
If you’re a TikTok user, chances are you’ve scoffed at Instagram’s attempt to compete with the hype. Yes, I’m referring to the Reels feature.
In an attempt to step in and absorb all the TikTok user run-off in August, when Trump announced the TikTok ban, Instagram launched Reels. Short, catchy and sharable clips, Reels are almost exactly like TikTok videos – but are they catching on?
In an interview with The Verge’s “Decoder” podcast, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri says that he isn’t yet happy with Reels, stating that TikTok is still “way ahead”. While Reels is growing in terms of shared content and consumed content, it’s not nearly where Instagram hoped it would be by this point. Perhaps this is because TikTok is still alive and well. Or perhaps there’s something else to it.
It’s interesting to note that some of the most popular Reels on Instagram are simply reposted TikToks. This poses the question: Is Instagram’s Reels simply a channel where the ‘cream of the crop’ TikTok videos can get posted in a second location and exposed to a new audience, or is it actually a platform for creators?
Mosseri also hints at some sort of consolidation across Instagram’s video features (i.e., IGTV, in-post videos, Reels). Without being entirely sure what that will look like, I’m already skeptical – is this all just another example of Facebook (via Instagram) trying to hold a monopoly on the social media sphere?
My opinion? As long as TikTok is still in operation, it will reign supreme. While the two apps have a ton of overlap, they are simply different cultural spaces. TikTok is a trend-heavy, meta-humor creative space that relies on engagement between users through effect, duets, and other TikTok-exclusive features.
Adversely, Reels is a space for Instagramming millennials and Gen Xers who might be choosing to opt out of TikTok (which has sort of become the cultural epicenter for the younger Gen Zers). The feature might also be used by Insta influencers and creators of all ages who toggle between the two apps (i.e., reposting your viral TikTok on Instagram to gain more traction).
Whatever the reason is for engaging in Reels, I’m fully certain the feature will never amount to the success of TikTok – but I guess we’ll have to wait to see what Instagram has in store for us next.
How this influencer gained 26k followers during the pandemic
(SOCIAL MEDIA) Becoming an influencer on social media can seem appealing, but it’s not easy. Check out this influencer’s journey and her rise during the pandemic.
Meet Carey McDermott – a 28-year-old Boston native – more widely known by her Instagram handle @subjectively_hot. Within a few months, since March, McDermott has accrued a whopping 26k following, and has successfully built her brand around activism, cheeky observations of day-to-day bullshit, and her evident hotness.
“It mostly started as a quarantine project.” Said McDermott, who was furloughed from her job at the start of shelter-in-place. “I had a lot of free time and I wanted to do an Instagram for a while so I thought, ‘I might as well take some pictures of myself.’”
To get started McDermott, used a lot of hashtags relevant to her particular niche to get noticed, and would follow other influencers that used similar hashtags.
“I definitely built a little online community of women, and we all still talk to each other a lot.”
Like many popular influencers, McDermott engages with her audience as much as possible. She is sure to like or reply to positive comments on her pictures, which makes followers feel special and seen, and subsequently more likely to follow and continue following her account. She also relies heavily on some of Instagram’s more interactive features.
When asked why she thinks she has been able to build and retain such a large base in just a few months, McDermott explained: “I think people like my [Instagram] Stories because I do a lot of polls and ask fun questions for people to answer, and then I repost them”.
But it’s not just fun and games for @subjectively_hot – Carey wants to use her account to make some substantial bread.
“I’ve gotten a bunch of products gifted to me in exchange for unpaid ads and I’m hoping to expand that so I can get paid ads and sponsorships. But free products are nice!”
Additionally, McDermott was recently signed with the talent agency the btwn – a monumental achievement which she attributes to her influencer status.
“Having a large Instagram following gave me the confidence to reach out to a modeling brand. After they looked at my Instagram, they signed me without asking for any other pictures.”
To aspiring influencers, McDermott offers this advice:
“Find your niche. Find your brand. Find what makes you unique and be yourself – don’t act like what you think an influencer should act like. People respond to you being authentic and sharing your real life. And definitely find other people in similar niches as you and build connections with them.”
But McDermott also warns against diving too unilaterally into your niche, and stresses the importance of a unique, multi-dimensional online persona.
“[@subjectively_hot] is inherently a plus size account. But a lot of plus size Instagrams are just about being plus size, and are only like, “I’m confident and here’s my body”. I don’t want to post only about body positively all day, I want it to be about me and being hot.”
And you definitely can’t paint this girl in broad strokes. I personally find her online personality hilarious, self-aware, and brutally anti-patriarchal (she explicitly caters to all walks of life minus the straight cis men who, to her dismay, frequent her DMs with unsolicited advice, comments, and pictures). Her meme and TikTok curations are typically some of the silliest, most honest content I see that day and, as her handle suggests, her pictures never fail in their hotness value.
For McDermott, right now is about enjoying her newfound COVID-era celebrityhood. Her next steps for @subjectively_hot include getting paid ads and sponsorships, and figuring out the most effective way to monetize her brand. The recent spike in COVID-19 cases threaten her chances of returning to the place of her former employment in the hospitality industry.
With so many influencers on Instagram and other platforms, some might find it hard to cash in on their internet fame. But with a loyal fanbase addicted to her golden, inspiring personality, I think Carey will do just fine.
TikTok: A hotbed of cultural appropriation, and why it matters
(SOCIAL MEDIA) Gen Z’s favorite app TikTok is the modern epicenter for cultural appropriation – why you as a business owner should care.
Quarantine has been the catalyst for a sleuth of new cultural phenomena – Tiger King, Zoom, and baking addictions, to name a few. Perhaps most notably, TikTok has seen user numbers skyrocket since lockdown. And I don’t think those numbers are going down any time soon.
TikTok is a very special place. More so than any other social media apps I’ve engaged with, TikTok feels like a true community where total strangers can use the app’s duet or audio features to interact in creative, collaborative ways.
However, being able to use another user’s original audio or replicate their dance has highlighted the prevalence of cultural appropriation on TikTok: the app, as wholesome as it may be at times, has also become a hot bed for “virtual blackface”.
The most notable example of appropriation has to do with the Renegade dance and Charli D’Amelio – who is young, White, and arguably the most famous TikTok influencer (she is second only to Addison Rae, who is also White). The dance, originally created by 14-year-old Black user Jalaiah Harmon, essentially paved the way for D’Amelio’s fame and financial success (her net worth is estimated to be $8 million).
Only after Twitter backlash did D’Amelio credit Harmon as the original creator of the dance to which she owes her wealth – up until that point, the assumption was the dance was hers.
There is indeed a myriad of exploitative and appropriative examples of TikTok videos. Some of the most cringe-worthy include White users pantomiming black audio, in many cases affecting AAVE (African American Vernacular English). Styles of dance and music that were pioneered by Black artists have now been colonized by White users – and many TikTokers are not made aware of their cultural origins.
As you can imagine, TikTok’s Black community is up in arms. But don’t take it from me (a non-Black individual) – log onto the app and listen to what Black users have to say about cultural appropriation for yourself.
Still, the app is one of the fastest growing. Companies are finding creative ways to weave their paid ads and more subliminal marketing strategies into the fabric of the ‘For You’ page. In many ways, TikTok is the next frontier in social media marketing.
With a few relevant locational hashtags and some innovative approaches to advertising, your business could get some serious FREE attention on TikTok. In fact, it’s the future.
As aware and socially conscious small business owners, we need to make sure that while we are using the app to get ours, that the Black creators and artists who made the app what it is today are also getting theirs. Anything short of direct accountability for the platform and for caustic White users would be offensive.
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