IDENTIFY YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PURPOSE
Every day, I log onto my social media accounts, post a few photos, some inspirational words, helpful content, and ideas for others to live a better life. While that all sounds very simple, it requires some effort, imagination, and focus. I usually have a concept in mind. I ask myself, “What can I share with others that has meaning? What can I say that will motivate or inspire them? How can I use my own words and actions to make the world a better place?”
When I scroll through my own news feed, I often see someone’s exclamation of how Facebook is awful, that they are going to never use it again, or that they are completely frustrated with what they see. Trust me, I understand. I receive my share of criticism and negativity, even though it is my page where I should be able to post my positive photos and ideas without being condemned.
I thought I would take a moment to help those of you who are so frustrated with social media to re-group your thoughts and find a way to positively manage your Facebook page or other social media. Like any negative thought or idea, you must turn things around so they work for you.
FACEBOOK IS NOT HUMAN
Facebook is not a person, it is an application. While not perfect, along with other social media outlets, it offers a way for you to promote yourself, your company, your ideas, brand, or opinions. If you are in a situation like me, where I write books and articles and without an audience they would be worth nothing, you need to find a way for social media to make sense in your own world. I have learned a few very valuable lessons along the way, and thought I would share some with you.
First of all, five years ago, no one knew who Andrea Harkins was. There was no “The Martial Arts Woman” persona or book or public figure. I was a martial artist in a small town with a dream. I was a woman who had pushed my own skills and talents aside because of fear of rejection or failure. But, one day, I woke up and thought to myself, “If I do not try now, my opportunity will slip away.” I began writing for magazines and wrote my first book, The Martial Arts Woman.
If you read any advice on the Internet about selling a book, you will read that you must make yourself known, otherwise your book has no relevance. While some write books simply to explore their feelings or to act as a journal, most of us want to have readership, earn a few dollars, create an essence, and be recognizable for what we do, so others will continue to enjoy and explore what we have to say.
My first couple of years on social media, I accepted all the friend requests that came my way. After all, I was building my own little empire of martial art and positivity, and the more the merrier, right? Wrong. After a while, disrespectful messages started to flow, including sexual innuendos, request for services, and foot picture requests for those with foot fetishes. I was appalled. Suddenly I was face to face with the very thing I was fighting against, being minimized because I am a woman. I thought martial arts would help me rise against the riff-raff, but instead it sucked me in.
I also discovered that there are haters and bullies and disrespectful people on every corner of the globe. People questioned my photographs by insinuating that I was doing something wrong. Some thought I was self-centered or egotistical and wanted people to just simply look at me all the time. Ha! If you knew me, you would never know how difficult it was to pull out of my shell to do any of it.
Also, at the time I began doing this, bloggers were being sued left and right for using photographs from the Internet that were, unbeknownst to them, copyrighted. I decided to use my own photographs from that day on. Oprah does it, why not? They are not about me as much as they are a representation of a middle-aged martial artist who is boldly ready to change the world one day at a time, through a positive approach to life and martial arts. So be it.
Over time, I learned to thicken my skin a little, and not just delete, but block contacts and connections on Facebook who had nothing positive to say, were critical, hateful, jealous, or disrespectful. That decision saved me from tossing in the towel and never wanting to use social media again. From then on, I always check the profile of a friend request. I review their friends list and their most recent photos. I can tell right away if it is someone who is like-minded and can benefit from what I have to share. I do not require that everyone share my same opinions, only that they are respectful and have a reason to be connected that makes sense for both of us.
I also do not automatically connect to people just because they have some of the same friends that I have. Many freely accept friend requests, which is no indication that their friends are those with whom I would also want to be associated.
Finally, do not let negative discussions get out of hand on your page. Opinions are fine, but when two people are chatting over your post and in their own world busy bashing each other or someone else, take control and delete what is going on. Again, this is your page and not a forum for unnecessary bashing.
Long story short, you are the moderator, controller, and leader of your social media. If you are frustrated at others comments or actions, you are not forced to read, react, or allow anger to control you. Our world is full of interesting and diverse people. They are not all going to like you.
I had to ask myself that very question, why someone would not like me or my page, when my mission is to work at bettering the world and help others see their own value, worth, and significance. Who knows why. It could be the color of my hair or what I am wearing that day that they do not like. I also wondered where men got the courage to say things they would never say in person, or which their wives or girlfriends had no clue they were saying. They are behind a screen and can hide when they say it.
Yes, it has been a long five years, but social media has helped to catapult me as a martial art writer to a place where I have met incredible people, been interviewed by many podcasts, featured in magazines, invited to write for magazines, and invited to speak to women’s groups, church groups, and at martial art seminars.
While I am frustrated by social media on occasion, especially because I need it to work as a promotion opportunity for me as a writer, I turned things around. Today, I delete and block as I go, then welcome the next person who has any interest whatsoever in being more positive and productive in their life.
Cultivate a social media following by surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Allow good opportunities to flow there. It could be an intimate circle of friends and family, or a professional collaboration where you build a base of fans, friends, followers and connections. Once you get big enough, you won’t care anymore what people say, anyway. Social media is neither friend nor foe, just an application. Remember, you don’t work for social media! Make it work for you.
This book shares the stories and insights of more than twenty-five women in the martial arts, and how they apply martial arts to their lives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea F. Harkins is a writer, motivator, life coach, martial artist, and public speaker. She was inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame in July, 2017. Her book, The Martial Arts Woman, is now available at themartialartswoman.storenvy.com.