A New Digital Writer

The person I have chosen to write about is my sister, Elaina Strong, who is fairly new to the idea of “digital writer” as she has recently started a new public Instagram account under the name “minimalistwithkids” where she posts pictures of her minimalistic lifestyle with 3 children as well as a score of DIY crafts, chemical free products, eco friendly habits and gardening and nature hobbies. I thought she would be interesting to interview considering how she created this account about 3 weeks ago and has already seen an influx of followers from people who share her interests. It’s unique to see the difference between her usage of her private Instagram account and her new public one and how it has influenced her as a new digital writer.

I start by asking her what inspired her to create this new, minimalist account:

Elaina: “Honestly, I’m a stay at home mom. Everything I do is for my kids and I’m also a minimalist, I needed something for myself. I do a lot of DIY and crafts, I know a lot about de-cluttering and simplifying your life and I wanted to broadcast, not necessarily my ways, but show people how I live and how simplifying helps you live a happier life.”

So this simplistic lifestyle, this is the story and the message that you want this account to emphasize to your followers?

Elaina: “Yes, I actually, I have a lot of nature on my account. I take the kids on a lot of nature walks, I try to teach people that being outside is good for your health and your body and to also be very eco-friendly.”

Would you say that, compared to your private account, you take more time to plan these pictures or to choose what to post or what to say?

Elaina: “Absolutely, I do take more time to plan out what I’m going to post to write about it, some of the posts take a lot of thought and time, sometimes they, you know, are DIY, they’re crafting. I teach people how to make things like deodorant, and I’m actually coming up with a post on how to make a lice spray. I have children in preschool and elementary school and sometimes we get letters that lice has gone around, so I’ve made a lice repellant with essential oils.”

So, how do you think your use of hash tags has changed since you started this account and what kind of response have you experienced because of it?

Elaina: “I’ve become more detailed with my hash tags. I have to think of everything so that I get more views, I usually go a little crazy with the hash tags and if I use more hash tags I actually get a lot more people looking at my Instagram page.”

I took this time to notice that she has received comments on several of her pictures by Instagram users with similar public accounts, some of whom have thousands of followers. I asked Elaina how this kind of reaction effected her

Elaina: “A lot of them are moms, and I feel a huge support network. We’re all moms or we’re all minimalists or, you know, zero waste or eco friendly users so I feel a huge support.  I feel like I’ve got so many people backing me up and I’m backing up a lot of people and we all have bad days, you know, we try to build each other up. Bad days with the kids or bad days just in general or someone just forgot their coffee, we’re cheering people on so they can make it through the rest of their day.”

My last question for her was then: What would you do differently to relate this story through other mediums if you had chosen something other than Instagram, like an online blog or twitter of Facebook?

Elaina: “Yeah, I think I would have a blog, but I think a blog is a lot of work so that’s why I felt an Instagram was a little easier for me. I feel like, with a blog I would be sitting in front of the computer a lot and would be typing a lot and I wouldn’t have a lot of time. Instagram is a lot easier for me. I snap a picture and I type it up real quick and I use the hash tags and people see it a lot easier. Also moms are super busy, I personally don’t have a lot of time to read blogs, but I do have time to read a quick little Instagram paragraph.”

Here are some examples from her Instagram

Expression Through Instagram

I decided to interview and profile my best friend Francheska Kola. She contributes to digital media through her Instagram profile. I have always enjoyed her Instagram and thought she would be an interesting person to profile since she isn’t the typical idea of a digital writer. She has been active on Instagram since 2012 and has posted 233 photos. Throughout the many years I’ve known her, I know how much effort she puts into her Instagram and I thought it would be interesting to ask her some questions about it.

What is the purpose of your Instagram? Do you think you are able to express yourself through your Instagram?

 Francheska: The purpose of my Instagram is to express myself in a way that I want people to see me. I think that I express myself in my best form, and that also might not be my truest form. Instagram is like an art portfolio where you show your best work. I obviously only post good pictures of myself because I want people to see me when I look good rather than when I look bad, and when I’m doing fun things rather than doing nothing. I think Instagram is a good way to highlight the good parts of your life and good experiences such as going on vacation and being with friends and family.

What goes into posting a photo? What is your process?

 Francheska: If it’s a scenery then I will usually take a few pictures and then edit it, make it clearer, change the coloring, and sometimes put on a filter. I’m not really that into filters. I’m more into adjusting the contrast, brightness, and sharpness. If it’s a picture of me with people, then usually that’s just a one take thing. Sometimes it is candid, sometimes it’s not. If it’s a picture of just me usually there’s a bigger process because I will take a few and then pick my favorite one, edit it, and post it. Over the years of being on Instagram, I realized that timing is important and depending on the time of day you will get more likes or fewer likes. I tend to post a picture later in the day around 9 pm or 10 pm which will get more likes than a picture posted at noon.

How do you choose which photos to post?

 Francheska: It depends on what the picture is. If it’s a picture of me, the angle is important. Specifically, for sceneries, I usually post them in landscape. The lighting is very important with all photos.

There are some unwritten rules pertaining to Instagram. What do you think of them and are you conscious of them?

 Francheska: I usually am conscious of them. I try to evenly spread out how many scenery or object photos I post versus how many pictures of myself that I post. Looking at my Instagram now, sometimes I don’t follow that rule, but I personally think your Instagram as a whole looks better if you break it up. I also don’t ever post two black and white photos in a row.

How much do you normally edit your photos? Why do you edit your photos?

 Francheska: Sometimes a picture will just come out really well and not need that much editing. With a picture that I want to get a lot of likes on and I want to be perfect, I like it to look a certain way. I feel like it all depends on the picture. If I think I look good in it, I won’t edit it that much. If I like the picture, but I don’t like the way I look in it, I’ll edit it and then post it. I also think it’s fun and I enjoy the process of editing pictures. I think I spend more time than the average person editing photos.

Do you think your Instagram does a good job representing who you are?

 Francheska: Over the years, I just post whatever I want and I don’t really care what other people think. I feel like it’s a good representation of random things that I do, how I look, and the friends that I have. It’s nice to have a platform where you can document interesting things, and then either you or other people can look back on it. I consider my Instagram a display of art that I have created through photography.

 

 

 

 

 

Scientist. Occasional Tweeter.

My Mom is a Ph.D chemist: when I discovered she would be taking some marketing classes at UD a few years ago I was perplexed: how could that be valuable for her or her company? As a child I didn’t have the faintest understanding of my parents’ work. I barely do now! So to find out how their education shapes their work is of great interest to me.
I was surprised from our conversation to learn that her job consists of a HUGE multitude of tasks. Twitter handling was a minute aspect of her overall work. But her experiences as a digital writer were interesting nonetheless.
1.What sort of challenges are you faced with when writing or creating content for Twitter?
  • Preparing ahead of time to be able to easily reference more deep content (a link to more information, for example) while tweeting from a conference for example. 
  • Taking time out from engaging in the content of events and tweeting.
  • Experience.
2.What does the Twitter process entail for you: is there someone else editing or checking your work?
I can tweet directly or send to someone who is in charge of our company’s twitter account. Generally though, one person handles it. The scientists at our company have been slow to engage with Twitter–they are focused more on the science, their main job–but they will on occasion provide some content. I have some background from my MBA (marketing concentration) in Twitter so have done more with it, but not that much.
3.What lets you know you are effectively using the digital space: do you look to other Business Twitter accounts for inspiration? Which ones?
I dont check other accounts with this goal in mind for my company in particular. It would be a good idea, however. 
4. Any other details you find interesting/noteworthy about the job?
Generally, I think it is a fun and interesting way to get information and stay in touch with what is trending and potentially identify new clients.
Overall my takeaway is:
#1. Twitter and social media handling is core for every business.
While the individual social side may have questionable effects, the power and reach that social media gives to businesses is undeniable.
#2. It seems ill advised to mix business and pleasure, at least on social media.
Using an alternate twitter or Facebook account for work seems like a great idea. I come to this realization as I am imagining some of the Twitter accounts I see now trying to tweet for a company handle…which seems unlikely to say the least.
#3. Effective tweeting is knowing your audience more than anything else.
The twitter accounts I looked at for a variety of companies had distinct tones/styles that matched their audiences interests. For example, video game handles responded frequently to followers with memes/gif reactions. Highbrow banks and corporate companies refrained from the dangers of interaction. News corporations posted material representative of the bias that their followers would jump to promote.
Know your role to achieve the best results.
This was a positive experience. I think its very enlightening to discuss how others perceive problems/solutions in digital writing and I know the next time I’m stuck on a piece/problem, I will won’t hesitate to look for a fresh perspective!

Social Action Without Response

When encountering this assignment, for a long time I was unsure what to post. There was no social action I could think of that would make a difference or be successful, and the social media accounts I have don’t necessarily have a lot of followers. I decided because of this, the best thing to do was post on twitter using a hashtag since that is an easy way for people who don’t even follow me to see certain key terms. A social issue that really interested me stems around gender equality, but the more subtle things that go on, often unnoticed, as opposed to the issues we hear about every day such as equal pay. I focused on women in the work force and used two key terms: the glass ceiling and the motherhood penalty. The glass ceiling refers to the invisible barrier women often face when it comes to receiving a promotion in a job; studies have been done that proves this to be true whether we realize it or not. The motherhood penalty revolves around the idea that mothers have a more difficult time trying to find jobs because they are considered to be less incapable or committed to their job since they have children, studies were done on this where fake resumes were sent out and the number of mothers that got called back were extremely lower than non-mothers and fathers. I posted a picture with words written on it and highlighted then I used the hashtags: gender equality, glass ceiling, motherhood penalty, and I threw in gender pay gap too since this plays a role and is a more popular issue. Unfortunately, I received no responses but I hope that eventually someone can see it and become informed on something that they never realized because I never would have either. Here is a link to my tweet.

No Response to Outside Issues

As a person who rarely posts on social media, especially about anything topics intensely debated, I was not sure I was well prepared for this kind of assignment. To scroll through the issues of today plastered all over social media feeds and read the comments of passionate people is entirely different from being the one to make those posts. The issue I decided to post about for my social action assignment is considerably tamer than most posts I come across, but it is something important to myself that I decided I would attempt to inform others about. I chose to write about the abandonment of rabbits around the Easter holiday and how this degree of animal cruelty is incredibly overlooked against the stream of political debates, global worries and even issues of animal cruelty surrounding more popular species. It seemed a trivial topic, but something I wanted to attempt to bring to light and hoped would spark some kind of debate. The internet is a place for all sorts of discussions to happen despite whether they have a heavy relevance to the times and I considered this post as a kind of test to see if anyone would react. I received no likes or shares on my post and only a single comment from a family member. The video I used in my post was from a very renowned magazine, the National Geographic, which I had hoped would inspire more conversation. Knowing the Easter holiday has since passed, I still hoped to grab the attention of those who might understand that the issue of rabbit abandonment is still high at this time. Perhaps with more time might come more interaction with my post from the public.

Here is a link to the Facebook post I made.

Making My Voice Heard

I have always been very invested in the issue of sexual assault. When the video came out of Donald Trump talking about assaulting women and condoning such horrific actions, I was disgusted. I was never one to put my political beliefs online since I have friends and family members who think differently, but this was a bipartisan issue. Someone who views sexual assault as a joke is not someone I want to be associated with let alone have as my president.  Because of my strong feelings about the topic, I decided to take to Facebook and post how I was feeling:

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I was nervous posting such a strongly opinionated post on social media, but having so many people like it made me feel validated and relieved. 47 people ended up liking my post on Facebook. Some of those people were close friends and family, and some I have never talked to before. I was glad that my post reached people and resonated with some enough for them to like it. The purpose of my post was to bring awareness to a huge issue facing us currently. I also wanted to make my voice heard and make it clear that no one should get away with this behavior. I think that I managed to accomplish my personal goals with this post. Being on social media that day I saw a lot of other people posting similar things. The sad reality I and many others were faced with was that social media posts weren’t enough. I knew a lot of people who were sickened by Donald Trump’s comments but didn’t vote. It was a huge wake-up call for me, and I’m sure a lot of other people, that someone who has sexually assaulted women and condones such acts could be the president. After that experience, I realized that I shouldn’t be afraid of having a voice and standing up for what I believe in because otherwise, nothing will change. You can’t complain about the way things are if you aren’t willing to put in the effort and make a difference.

Warning! This Post Will Be Public! Will You Proceed?

Reddit is like the front page of the internet in a sense. The high volume of user traffic and user created/posted content means that I can see a pretty good picture of what people are discussing online. I can get links to news, entertainment, books, movies… and cute videos of cats!

I have been using reddit for a while: but not as a poster/contributor. I’ve never been one to put my ideas or myself ‘out there’, I’m not constantly updating my media feeds, or taking pictures of my food, or even using social media publicly at all. Facebook is useful to message and join organizational groups, but I’ve not really felt the social media ‘itch’ that seems to have grabbed most of the networked world.

I made a reddit account for this post. Instantly the lens that I am viewing the comments and content before me shifts dramatically. With the new potential ability to reply to user comments, I find myself reading much more carefully, and I feel people’s comments holding a heavier weight than before. Feeling that open channel of dialogue; feeling the potential for discussion heightened my attention and my participation. They wrote all of this out so well and people approved of them and I can do the same? Incredible!

A large part of why I refrained from joining internet posting sites like reddit: it honestly felt like it would be a fruitless endeavor. Sure, I’m online while I’m getting breakfast in the morning, but I’m not really there to interact or attempt to impact a gigantic conversation. It feels honestly impossible to have any sort of power or steering on reddit.  Some of the comments were one word responses to the post. Some were making jokes about other topics. A few comments were talking about some other post entirely.

My comment was not uprooted or touched: maybe someone read it, maybe they didn’t. Here is the comments section of the post, Ele4te is the account name so if you search that you can find the post in context.

Here is the text of my comment:

At what point did Fox leadership decide, “Maybe this isn’t the best PR for us”. They certainly took their time to make this decision. “Only 30 have come forward” “Keep him on this’ll all blow over” “31 now, sir” “Get him out of here! We can’t sustain this image!”

Ultimately this has made me realize that people feel empowered and pay closer attention to issues that they are able to discuss online. The need to give a public, online forum seems crucial for any business. Without online discussion it seems you’re simply at a disadvantage. Communication is a resource, and being able to post, comment, share, like, up-vote, and participate in the online dialogue may not always be impactful: but, it certainly is valuable. Why else would people do it?