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Perception Is Reality: Lessons Learned As A Social Media Intern

I am a millennial. There is a societal belief that because of the year in which I was born it is my job to understand social media. There is also a societal belief that all I care about is social media. And while the negative connotation associated with both beliefs is unwelcomed, those statements are not exactly wrong. Technically, it is my job to understand social media. And yes, I do care a lot about social media, but not in the way some individuals might think.

Instagram has over 500 million active monthly users, and those users have shared over 40 billion photos since the start of the social media giant. There is no shortage of individuals creating, sharing and “#regram-ing” content, which makes one wonder, how and when did a feed full of sunrises, cat videos and avocado toast become such a large part of people’s social experience? And how could some individuals rise above the rest to achieve the ever-exclusive title of “insta-famous?”

Social media gives people the opportunity to pick and choose what they see, whom they interact with and, ultimately, what they believe. Content creators that are able to fabricate a drool-worthy, aesthetically pleasing and envy-inducing life through the lens of social media can rise to celebrity status without ever extending past the screen of a smartphone. Perception is reality. If you look good on social media, no one really cares what your actual life looks like. If your pictures trigger likes and comments, you’ve succeeded!

This may seem like a very cynical analysis of social media, but it’s often the truth. Brands that are able to maintain a consistent aesthetic will have more user engagement. Companies that intertwine their message with the message users want will be more successful on social media. Social media is far too instantaneous to not understand what users want. Easily digestible content is worth its weight in gold, and the recognition created by user engagement is priceless.

However, social media isn’t always the aforementioned trope of “sunrises, cat videos and avocado toast.” A brand’s aesthetic could be flawless, but if there’s no authenticity, users will see right through the façade. The combination of a genuine message with desirable content is the reason social media has become such a large part of individuals’ social experience. Perception will always be reality when discussing social media, but that doesn’t mean the perceptions have to be wrong.

I love social media. And while some people might tweak their life for the filter of Instagram, every person has a voice and the opportunity to create their own life story. There’s no shame is creating or liking content that was made simply for aesthetic reasons. But it is always important to remember that authenticity is just as desirable.

 

 

Author: Sydney Seymour
Author Email: sseymour@harnessmagazine.com
Author Bio: Sydney is an intern for Harness Magazine and is currently majoring in Strategic Communications with a minor in Professional Writing at The Ohio State University. She is a writer and researcher for Harness Femcast, a certified yoga instructor and spends way too much time on Instagram. She loves tea, her cats, millennial pink (despite rarely wearing any colors other can grey and black) and stories of powerful women.
Link to social media or website: Instagram @sydneybean__

 

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