Today is Social Media Day, a day dedicated to recognizing and celebrating social media’s impact on global communication. According to a Global Wide Index report, the average person has five social media accounts and spends around 1 hour and 40 minutes browsing these networks every day. It is a part of our daily lives — whether a love or hate relationship.
To mark the occasion, we spoke with four “insta-famous” Chicagoans to talk about the joys and pressures of social media, and learn how they continue to grow their following naturally, make connections that will last and give back to the community.
Do you feel social media overwhelmed or enhanced your life?
“Mostly enhanced but if I’m being honest, definitely a little of both. When I started using Instagram my motivation was to connect with other moms, share our day-to-day, and be inspired by each other. As a new mom, I was feeling isolated and really wanting a community and Instagram provided a fun way to peek into the lives of others and also to share my own experiences. I ended up making some amazing, real friendships through the app and have truly enjoyed watching these women raise little humans. Lately, with the commercialization of the platform, I’ve definitely felt more lost and have struggled to find my place but I still love checking in with my friends and staying updated on their lives.”
“Above all, I really love connecting with others, whether it’s online or off. Every day, I find joy in engaging with readers, responding to comments, having a conversation via direct messages and adding supportive notes to other people’s posts. Social media has helped me establish some amazing lifelong friendships.”
In your opinion, what are then biggest benefits to social media and sharing your life?
“Connecting with other people! In vulnerability and connection we realize we are not alone and there is a great comfort in that. I also love that I can share simple things like how I make dinner and it can inspire so many people all at once who I would have not otherwise had to opportunity to get in front of.”
“I use it to get inspiration from others (recipes, workouts) and I also use it to inspire others that they too can cook healthy (and delicious) and lead an active lifestyle.”
Olivia: “Social media can be really, really time consuming. I’ve become more aware of taking intentional breaks and of choosing not to live my life through my camera lens or phone screen.”
Sarah: “Comparison. It is the thief of joy.”
Jennifer: “The main drawback is that social media is sometimes perceived as accurate representation of real life. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons why I named my blog ‘Style Charade.’ For some posts, I might be wearing a ballgown in a conservatory and in others, a midi dress in the rain. My content is meant to be lighthearted and fun as I always want to create positive, thumb-stopping images and videos that make you want to take a second look.”
Julia: “The biggest drawbacks are when you feel like you are living too much of your life for others online and not being able to be present with friends and family in real life. It also can just be a major time suck when you get caught endlessly scrolling through photos and videos of other people’s lives.”
How did you grow your following? Any tips and best practices?
Jennifer: “My channels and followings have grown slowly and authentically. I’m truly thankful for anyone who sees my content and decides to follow! In the end, I believe the best way to grow your audience is to focus on what I call the “Three C’s” – content, community, and consistency. Create quality imagery, engage with the your readers and followers, and find a regular cadence to when you share something new.”
Do you think you’ll continue posting on social media? Do you see yourself slowing down in the future?
Sarah: “I don’t! Like me, my account has evolved over time and I love what it has become. People look to me for inspiration whether it’s for cooking or help with figuring out their workouts. The MOST rewarding thing to me is helping others through this platform. As long as I continue to find joy in that, I don’t see myself slowing down.”
Jennifer: “I will definitely continue on social media! The channels are constantly evolving, and new options are on the horizon. At the same time, I’ve learned that all channels don’t make sense for me. Therefore, I’ll continue to focus my time, energy and efforts which ones feel most authentic.”
Social media can also be used to promote good. What is a local cause or nonprofit that you are passionate about?
Sarah: Onward House is one of my favorite local organizations. Their mission is to improve lives and uplift communities through educational, economic and support services.”
Olivia: “It’s not local but it’s been so hard to ignore the recent family separation crisis happening at our border. I’ve been trying to stay informed and educated about what’s happening and have reached out to my representatives. I’m hoping to find other ways to be active and lend support around this issue.”
Jennifer: “Over the years, I’ve loved supporting organizations like the Joffrey Ballet, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Windy City is full of amazing art-based nonprofits, and I hope to become even more involved in these organizations (and others) in the years to come.”
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Macaire Douglas lives in Chicago with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Share Our Spare, a local nonprofit that collects goods for children in need.