Social Media to build community from online to offline

Fast Company posted a video on “How Your Social Media Posts Can Actually Make A Difference” and I got to think why am I on social media? I don’t have anything to sell or promote. In fact, my professional day job as the “Development Officer” at a visual art gallery means I’m a fundraiser through grants, donations and sponsorships but I don’t connect my social media profile to acquire more financial contributions. The main platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), I use are to build community through online connections and translate them to meaningful offline relationships.

I’ve grown up with the internet. As I aged so did the growth of the internet. Since Windows 95, our household was connected via dial-up internet so we can chat with friends and learned basic HTML so we could build Geocities websites to explore our creativity. The internet was always — and still is a place for us to build a community.

Fast forward to the internet in modern times. I’ve used Twitter since 2009, first as a news aggregator and “micro-blogging” platform, (basically to post my food photos). Now I use it to form partnerships for community events. In 2013, I received my first ever Vancouver Foundation Neighbourhood Small Grant for a few hundred dollars to organize a 24-hour Drawing Party. With the help of Marg, we organized different workshops, she connected me with partners and vendors and we even received some publicity on the radio and newspaper. If it weren’t for Twitter, this project could not have been so well organized and well attended. The spirit of community: bringing them online (through Twitter) to offline (community events) was so profound that I continued to do these events every year.

Fast forward to a few months ago, after travelling from Montreal to Victoria to meetings and conferences, I realized there was a huge lack of gender imbalance and lack of cultural diversity in arts leaderships across the country. I penned a Facebook post about developing a new project to engage more diversity and female roles in arts leadership. I wrote it in an airport cafe while waiting for my flight to Vancouver and I didn’t expect it to gain more than 10 likes. After the 5-hour flight, I switched off the airplane mode on my iPhone and saw the 50+ likes, comments and 4 shares.

These likes and shares from a variety of my Facebook friends means this project has meaning. It was able to connect to a wide range of friends from all over. Since then I’ve used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to connect with like-minded individuals and mentoring/leadership programs. Two months after my original post, we are now organizing our first pilot for arts leadership/mentorship program this fall.

My daily routine includes scrolling through my social media feeds. Not because I have too much time on my hands but I do it because I want to connect to a community online and eventually offline. So we can grow our own creative projects and develop important and meaningful work during our little time on this Earth.