I’ll admit it: I rarely talk on social media. I “like” on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter all the time, but rarely have enough confidence, even with a screen and the entire internet between me and the recipient, to send out a comment or question.
How’s the quote go? “Introverts unite! Separately. In our own homes.”
I chuckle at this, but the problem with the sentiment is, as a creator trying to build a following, it doesn’t work. Being active and engaging the audience is what brings people in and keeps them.
Truthfully, I do engage. I have long conversations on my YouTube videos nerding out about Ghibli and art supplies. My problem isn’t about engaging those who interact on my post or videos.
My problem is not engaging on others’ content.
I’ve had a Tumblr I’ve used for in-progress and sketches for years. Like, since 2011 years. The main purpose of the blog was to just put out art. Specifically, my art. Only. I have under 150 followers–a byproduct of only posting original art and no fandom affiliation.
And not really interacting with anyone.
This has become painfully obvious to me since I started posting to my YouTube channel earlier this year. Engagement isn’t a one-way street. I make fantastic content, but I don’t connect on other people’s content. I like and then scroll on by. I don’t reblog it because it’s my sketch blog. My art. Others’ content doesn’t “belong.”
It’s really difficult for me to “allow” other people’s content in my space. A space I wanted people to come and want to see only my art.
Recently, along with posting videos to my channel, I started a Twitter account. I hit a ‘restart’ switch on my ~it’s my space!~ attitude and started retweeting content I enjoyed on top of posting my sketches. Replies are still my preferred method, but if something speaks to me, I convince myself into retweeting it. No harm done. Deep breaths, Mikaela!
Instead of viewing others’ content as not my art, I’ve tried to think of it as an extension myself: my likes, what I hope others might enjoy because I enjoy it. This totally sounds like I’m some inconsiderate human who is ‘allowing’ others into her *superior* space. It’s not that at all. It’s more of a misplaced understanding of what I thought should work for me, and now intruding into the spaces other creators have made, resulting in the anxiety of being too forward, too direct when I do more than acknowledge/like a work (“notice me senpai”-feels comes to mind).
The reason I’m writing this inner-rant is because I’ve seen immediate effects of interacting with others. By retweeting or commenting on their post, they’ve gone and retweeting my work. Rather than just giving of myself, my artwork, helping those around the interweb-space, a little bit comes back. I haven’t grown exponentially in any means of followers (and I don’t think I’ll ever have a copious number) on any platform, but I feel like I’m moving forward, rather than staying still.
And maybe, eventually, it’ll all pay off.