By Tristan Katz
Remember when we used to refer to our activity on social media platforms as ‘social networking?’ Maybe I’m aging myself with that reference. But somehow, amidst the ongoing growth and usage of platforms like Facebook and Instagram, we’ve lost sight of the networking aspect and we’ve instead focused on the media aspect. The primary difference, of course, is a matter of engagement.
By engagement, I mean the way in which you interact with others’ content and the way others interact with yours. Interaction can be likes, comments, shares, messages in the DMs, re-posts, etc. etc.
In order to cultivate a successful marketing strategy, we have to do more than just post to our grid—we have to engage with others’ content; we have to engage in creating relationships and in building community.
As Monica Cadena @sacred.aclhemist says, “Grow your community, not your following.”
This short, simple phrase can help us to remember why we’re on social media in the first place.
Sure, it’s about building an audience, reaching new clients and students, and hopefully earning enough money to survive and thrive.
The deeper intention, though, must be oriented towards relationship-building and not simply vanity metrics (aka the number of likes your content receives, the number of saves, etc.). Metrics are important, but an emphasis on numbers means we lose sight of the meaning of it all and the quality of the connections we might be making.
If you’ve spent any time studying the characteristics of white supremacy culture, then you already know that whiteness centers quantity over quality—our dominant cultural conditioning is rooted in an obsession with the numbers game.
What’s more, we also know that apps like Facebook and Instagram are literally designed to keep us on the screen, spending more time refreshing and scrolling. Our brains are lighting up when we see activity on our feed—when we see new likes, saves, shares, and follows, we get a dopamine hit. (If you haven’t already watched the documentary The Social Dilemma, I highly recommend it.)
In order to challenge these toxic narratives that uphold the numbers game obsession and lead us into focusing on transactions rather than relationships, we must reorient ourselves to quality over quantity.
Social media isn’t simply a numbers game. You could have 10k followers but if you’re only sharing content to “beat the algorithm” or get good numbers, I can almost guarantee you’ll see less interest in what you’re sharing. We know when we’re being sold to. Conversely, we also know when sharing is genuine, honest, and authentic.
Similarly, we know when someone is commenting on a post or sending us a private message in order to pitch us on their product or service. We also know when someone is commenting or in our DMs to truly build a connection.
In order to grow engagement and reach new clients and students, we need to be in the anti-capitalist practice of centering relationship.
We need to be in the practice of creating quality content and challenging the narrative that we have to post so many times a week in order to be “successful.”
We also need to be in the deeper work of setting intentions and of setting boundaries, something our yoga practice can prepare us for.
When we spend time in inquiry (svadhyaya) to check in, to discern what we need in relationship to our screen time or our social media experience, we can arrive at a place of knowing: maybe we need to set screen limits on our devices to hold ourselves accountable to not leaning into the endless scroll game; maybe we need to set a timer for ourselves so that, when we open the app, we know we’re opening it with an intention rather than opening it without awareness; maybe we commit to only checking Instagram twice a day—once in the morning hours, and once in the early evening. Or maybe we can commit to opening the app with the sole attention of meaningfully engaging with our community—of commenting on others’ posts, of sharing content that resonates with you, of supporting the work of our colleagues, friends, and broader networks.
Social media can be a great marketing tool. It can also be a messy place, full of misinformation, heated debates that might feel toxic and/or problematic, and of course, vanity metrics, comparison, and FOMO.
What if we open our social media apps and remind ourselves of the potential for connection, of the potential for community, and the potential for networking? How might that intention and perspective help you shift your relationship to your on-screen time? How might it help you show up for yourself and others in ways that center relationship over transaction?
What do you need to stay engaged, to stay in community, and to stay boundaried?
Tristan Katz (they/them) is a writer, educator, and digital strategist based on the ancestral land of the Cowlitz and Clackamas peoples, now known as Portland, OR. Tristan offers business and marketing individual and group mentorship programs, web and graphic design services, and workshops and trainings centered around queer identity and transgender awareness with an anti-oppression and intersectional lens. Through their podcast, articles, digital resources, and workshops, Tristan supports those who seek to grow their work while staying aligned with the practices of yoga, equity, diversity, and inclusivity.
Interested in learning more?
Join Tristan Katz for their upcoming course,
Conscious Marketing: Justice-Focused Digital Strategies for Yoga Teachers.
Registration closes soon! Be sure to sign up before July 26th.
This online program will explore marketing through the lens of yoga and social justice. The training will support your personal growth and transformation as you discover systems and strategies to make your marketing work for you, rather than against you.
July 27-September 28, 2021.
Tiered pricing, payment plans, and partial scholarships are available.