In a few of our previous blogs we’ve talked about the importance of social media and building an online network, but how do you actually do it?
Studio 24-7’s founders, Ben and Josh, actually met online through Instagram. It’s still seen as a slightly strange way of meeting new friends, which is odd when you consider the popularity of apps like Tinder and Bumble. However, when you think about it, it makes sense to use apps like Instagram to meet people. Rather than being friends based on location or proximity, you can chat to people who have similar interests regardless of where they live.
It’s actually really easy, and a lot of fun. You just have to put a little time and effort in. I’ve devised 3 simple rules to follow for building an online network. They are:
- Share what you’re interested in in an engaging way.
- Be social on social
- Meet people!
We could leave it there and have you interpret what those things mean, but instead we’re going to give you some useful hints and tips about how to make your next friend online, professional or otherwise.
Share What You’re Interested in in an Engaging Way
Social media is all about community. Personal accounts showing your life are great, but to really capitalize on the potential of social media you should really choose a niche and create an account for that. For Josh and Ben, it was filmmaking and photography. Some people are athletes, some people bake, some tidy-up, some write and some are musicians. The possibilities are pretty endless, but choosing a niche and sharing your interest in it through written posts, videos and photos is great way of advertising what space you’re in.
Niching up is an important first step to take, because engaging with people is going to make them want to look at your profile and find out what you’re about. If it’s unclear if you have the same interests or can bring value to each other, then they probably won’t stick around. Brutal but true.
You might be the best chef in the world, but messaging Gordon Ramsey telling him how much he’s inspired you won’t lead to a conversation unless you profile shows that inspiration. Eventually you may even have people coming to you and saying how you’ve inspired them. Shouting about what you do is necessary to be discovered, it always has. We just have more access to it at the moment.
Think of your profile as a public facing CV.
Be Social on Social
Step one is usually where most people stop and expect to get a big following/new friends. Life simply doesn’t work that way.
Engagement generates engagement. Follow, like, comment, message. They’re the four pillars of meeting new people online.
Follow– first find accounts that interest and inspire you. Follow them. That’s all.
Like– Like some of their posts, and consume the content. But really consume it. Don’t passively watch or read and have nothing to say afterwards. Pretend like this person is your sibling and they’ve put themselves out there by posting. Read the captions, think of something thoughtful or constructive to say, then move onto the comment.
Comment– An important one to get right. Commenting three flame emojis and saying “nice tones bro” on someone’s landscape photo isn’t really enough in 2019. You need to delve a little deeper. Read the caption, is there a question you want to ask? Or a comment you have that pertains to the location? Have you been or researched it yourself before? And finally, if you have nothing to say, don’t say anything. The more genuine these interactions are the better. It’s not always necessary to comment on everything.
Message– Messaging people directly is a great way to start a conversation. If you have something a little too long winded to put into a comment, flick a DM over. If you want to share a post they might like, or send a link to an article, a message is the way to go. If you want to send something a little more personal about how they’ve inspired or informed you, DMs might be the way forward. Either way, this is where your friendship is formed.
All this online chat is all very well and good, but there’s no substitute for real life interaction. After you’ve chatted a little while and feel comfortable, it’s probably a good idea to meet up. In the photography/filmmaking world this translates as “let’s go for a shoot”. Both Ben and Josh have each met some of their best friends this way.
This also leads to collaboration on other projects. Maybe you make a cooking show together, or record a podcast about the experience of playing in a band etc.
Getting a genuine human connection out of the work you’re putting online is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things that comes out of social media, and you should definitely be trying to do it.
And now you should have some new friends! It’s important to note that these new connections probably won’t lead to work immediately. Sometimes it takes a year or two for things to come to fruition. This is the name of the game, and if you’ve done your networking correctly it you should have some work rolling in from at least some of your new connections. And if you don’t, be content in the fact you’ve made some new friends instead!