Write What I Like, Or I Won’t Care

Constantly being on social media, we are bombarded by different kind of posters who have different objectives in what the share with their audience. There are sports accounts that retell the stats of every game, company accounts that update viewers on latest actions of the CEO, and personal accounts in which users can post anything from their latest relationship status to a picture of a puppy eating an ice cream cone. To me, you are a successful writer when your posts gain a decent amount of engagement from their audience. So when a writer has a more solid idea of whom their audience is, they can tailor their content to be relevant to and please that audience.

If you look at the account “Sorority_Lyfe”, the majority of their followers are just what their account name would imply- sorority girls. This account on Instagram posts pictures of movie scenes saying “I’m trying so hard not to be an asshole to you guys okay? Just please work with me here” with the caption reading “Going back to work after a long weekend”. This garnished 134 likes and 14 comments, mostly of people tagging other friends with whom they thought this resonated. The point of this account is like so many parody accounts on social media — to post content that relates to the lives of their followers. When the accounts followers see things like this, they are assured that they made a wise choice in following the account and probably get a good laugh out of the post.

Some examples of the kinds of pictures Sorority_Lyfe posts

There are also accounts that do not do a good job of engaging their audience. I currently intern for a financial firm as a social media curator and monitor. Now I’ll be the first to admit, there isn’t too much that I have to work with since the national company has a lot of rules about what the offices can and can’t post on social media. Upon checking my office’s Facebook page the first day I was there, I was sad to find that barely any of our posts had been engaged by our followers. We had a lot of home and lifestyle articles posted to our page and a few personal photos here and there. The latest article that comes to mind is “Five High-Calcium Snacks (That Aren’t Dairy)”. 

I mean, seriously, if who cares? Followers liked our Facebook page to keep up with the company that is handling immense amounts of their money, not get snack advice. As part of my tasks, I did research on how our client base (and followers) interact on social media, and then have begun posting based on my findings. I proactively found out who our audience was and tailored our page’s post in accordance to what they would find interesting. And guess what? Our engagement has gone up.

On personal accounts, it may be easier to know your audience, depending on what forum or app you are using. On sites such as Facebook, you can adjust your privacy settings in order to limit who sees what you post. The other day, I was scrolling through my timeline, and stopped on a video that Buzzfeed posted called “Italian Grandma’s Try Olive Garden for the First Time”. After watching it, and literally laughing to the point of tears, I reposted it because I know that a decent number of my Facebook friends are Italian and have Italian Nonnas (that’s grandma for those of you who don’t know. Look, I gave you a language lesson)and would therefore also love the video. Results? I have fifteen people like it and six comment on how much this related to them.

Unless you’re private on Instagram, basically anyone can find your profile and see what pictures you post. But often, users post while thinking what their audience would like to see best. My sorority sister posts a lot of fitness pictures since she is a dancer and a gym rat. More times than not, I see the people who engage her posts are other fitness accounts or people who use her posts as inspiration when working out. Recently, she posted a picture of her in workout shorts and a sports bra with the caption “I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me”. Aside from the near-100 likes the photo received, she was given comments such as the fire emoji, “skinny mini” and “such a hottie”. In looking at the likes, many of them were people who also posted similar fitness pictures. She posts picture similar to that of her followers and gains engagement via their same interests. However, as Marwick and Boyd mentioned, people also post simply for themselves. I stalked my sister’s Facebook and noticed she used to be a bit heavier, so I can infer that she also posts these pictures as “progress photos” showing how far she has come in her fitness journey.

I looked at a friend’s, Joe’s, Instagram and he has the opposite result. He is in a fraternity and plays lacrosse, and therefore many of his followers are other fraternity men and lacrosse players. In accordance to that, he should post things related to Greek Life and/or sports, but rather he posts embarrassing pictures of his friends and memes. The most popular post on his page has 18 likes, which is dismal in light of his 250+ followers. Instead of posting things that will engage his audience, he ignores the responsibility he has to them and his engagement with them follows in suit.

Now, you would have to have the brain function of a gold fish if you couldn’t figure out the best way to engage your audience on Snapchat. You can literally aim a single post at a direct friend. For example, I was down at a pond the other day and found a baby turtle. Knowing she loves turtle, I sent of Snapchat of the animal to my friend Jenna and she immediately snapped me back saying she wanted me to bring her back one from my vacation. I knew she would care about that picture so I only sent it to her and garnished a response. When it comes to posting on one’s story, the biggest relevancy felt by everyone was anything Fourth of July related. On a sidenote: if you didn’t appreciate every single post about the perfection that is the United States of America, please unfollow me. With everyone celebrating the birthday of our wonderful nation, a Snapchat story filled with red, white, and blue jello shots, BBQs, and fireworks would’ve interested anyone. Throughout the day, my friends’ and my phones were flooded with “Reply beer chug”, “Fireworks show” and “Murica” snaps that we all aptly responded to. The snapchatters knew their audience and sent pictures accordingly.

On the contrary, there were other users who didn’t have the common sense to realize that on July 4th, no real American wants to see or hear anything about anything other than the U.S.A. So when my friend snapped me a picture of himself saying “Hi from Germany” I promptly responded with a snap saying “Tell them: World War 2”. My friend obviously didn’t think that I, being one of the most America-loving people you’ll ever meet, didn’t give a single care about Germany. He also put that story on his story, and later told me that he got a ton of negative responses from his friends, mocking his being in Germany and calling him un-American for not celebrating the Fourth. This shows how, even if you get engagement on your posts, not knowing your audience and what they want to see can result in negative responses. (Disclaimer: I am just sharing the pro-America responses that my friend told me about. I have zero issues with Germany or its people. If fact, they are, in my experience, a very attractive people.)

Although it is not always easy to gauge involvement on some social media forums, the best posts come from knowing what your audience likes and what they would most like to see. Once you figure that out, you can post knowing that you videos of puppies playing with babies will receive plenty of fun comments.