People Are Going to Label You, Whether You Like It Or Not
It’s a well-known fact that stereotypes exist both online and in day to day life.
In general, stereotyping has been seen as a negative thing. It’s categorized as a situation where a person makes an over-simplified assumption of who a person may or may not be.
But stereotypes don’t have to be negative. Sometimes we want people to quickly and easily be able to assume things about who we are striving to be. Whether that’s the type of job you work, such as a “business man” or an “artist”, or simply your character, “loving” or “patient,” there can be positive stereotypes.
I’ve noticed lately that stereotypes are something that exist strongly within social media. People have started to very careful and intentionally curate their social media accounts (especially Instagram) to only show the one thing they do. And if you look closely, many of these accounts have millions of followers.
So how do I take advantage of online stereotypes?
People visit your Instagram or Twitter account, and want to very quickly be able to give you a label. Are you a fashion blogger? A foodie? A mom? But most importantly, are you someone who consistently provides useful information to your audience?
As viewers of social media, we’re not always consciously thinking it, but we’re always looking for something very specific from an account. If the account has a mishmash of content (dog photos, food photos, a selfie) it’s really easy for a viewer to not understand what sort of value you’re trying to provide to them, so they move on.
I know that when I visit someone’s Instagram account, the first thing I do is look at the content as a whole. If the account isn’t curated with high quality photos or information that I find valuable, I’m not interested. I move on and usually forget I ever saw their account.
Give your audience a takeaway
So you can see that it’s incredibly easy for people to write you off as uninteresting just by what you post on ONE social media account. It’s unfortunate, but people are selfish and always looking out for what they can get from you.
Take advantage of the fact that people want to get something out of being part of your audience. Take a look at who you portray yourself as online. Are you consistent? Or are you confusing? Do your followers know you for the thing you do best?
If not, take a step back and revisit what it is that you’re striving for.
As someone who started out posting a mix of lettering, landscapes, and my adorable Great Dane on Instagram, I realized that my audience wasn’t super interested in what I was doing because they were confused about which thing I wanted to be known for. Was I the “Great Dane lady?” Or was I an artist with a passion for hand lettering?
I sat down one day and decided that hand lettering was my passion and my focus for my Instagram account. I wanted to be known as a lettering artist, and share that passion with other people who were also interested in lettering.
Flash forward to now, I’ve slowly worked my way up to over 1,000 followers by curating my account and showing people that lettering is my focus. I work every day to create beautiful, high quality lettering pieces, but also share my knowledge of the things I’ve learned on my journey to become a letterer.
But if I only post one thing, people won’t know me as a person!
Don’t forget that you get to choose how your audience defines you. Take advantaged of being stereotyped and make it be within the thing you love. Tell your story in a compelling way, and your online audience will grow!