Don't Make Fans, Make Friends

Would you rather mean everything to 1000 people, or something to a 100,000? This is a question I often think about in this digital age, where everyone is chasing trends, vying for attention, and clamoring to go more viral than Gwyneth Paltrow at a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit. It’s 2020, and as the ever changing algorithms of our favourite apps become more and more accessible to us wanna-be influencers, it begs the question; why should we give a shit?

Perfection fatigue. It’s something we are all starting to get, I believe. It’s why we roll our eyes at Will Smith’s big budget Tik Toks (and make no mistake they’re in the back of our fucking heads), why we have such a visceral reaction to shirtless dudes talking about hustling, and face-tune fake selfies trying to preach authenticity. There’s an industry standard for apps we should have, filters we should apply and tags we should hash. We’ve been given the keys to the social media Lamborghini and, with a little planning, can EASILY grow a modest social media following. In the words of Incredibles baddie Syndrome, however; “When everyone’s super, no one will be.”

Follow any genre of Instagram account and you’ll begin to see similarities in all of them. Most fitness accounts, for example, all use beefed out versions of your favourite cartoon characters in a fitness meme, advanced diagrams of particular exercises, and some videos here and there of people getting a time-lapse pump on in the gym. Of course, being a fitness account, they should probably have a couple of these things, but with constant saturation of the same content they’re all ending up with a follower count in the tens of thousands, which at first may seem impressive, but eventually can't be scaled and can’t be monetized. You see, instead of trying to take the road less traveled or, even better, paving a new road, everyone’s hopping on the freeway, stoked to be able to speed for 45 minutes before coming to a dead-stop in rush hour traffic.

All these metaphors are leading up to a bigger point I promise. All this perfection works, no doubt. Don’t record all your albums live-off the floor with one mic, don’t take all your photos with your Nokia flip phone, and please lord don’t release your blogs on a free domain website, google domains is like 15 bucks a year, but we are, getting tired of the bullshit and tired of the dishonesty. We are enjoying aesthetics, not vibing with actual people, and that has no longevity. You already are the brand you are trying to cultivate. Your friends like you for you, and while it is important to set some boundaries about what you will and will not share with your online following, you WILL NOT create a dedicated, FOREVER fan base with people that only get to see 20% of your actual personality. We are living in an era where people are digging up tweets faster than oil. If people aren’t at least 90% sure you aren’t a stark raving xenophobe, they aren’t going to hesitate one second to click that unfollow button if you post something that isn’t your usual content.

Refusing to give you anything but my truest and most authentic self is why I take Instagram stories drunk, post very little content that hasn’t been taken by my cell phone, and tag #perthontario in every single post I share. Plan out your Instagram theme, spend a bunch of money on camera and recording gear for awesome videos and pictures, just do it only for you and the audience you already have. Not because that’s what the For You page on Tik Tok demands, and not because you want to scale your audience by 100% next year. Pull down the curtain and always be authentic, don’t just make fans, make friends.


© 2019 by Logan Brown.