Four local artists and social media gurus shared tips and stories on utilizing social media accounts to showcase their art and boost their businesses at a panel Wednesday night in the Multicultural Student Services Center.
If you’re a social media aficionado but missed Wednesday’s panel, here are the top three takeaways to use social media for more than just selfies from the MSSC’s “Glam Your Gram: Social Media for Social Change” event.
1. Use Instagram to pay the bills and develop useful skills
The panelists agreed that using social media can help land some paid gigs, but Tamon George, the co-founder and director of District-based Creative Theory Agency, said social media can be better utilized to show off your skills. He said posting his photography while he was trying to get a job in Silicon Valley helped him gain the skill set he needed for the social media company he later co-founded.
“For me, Instagram by no means is like how I earn money or how I desire to,” he said. “It did play a part in the company I created now.”
Although George said that some people can make $2,000 on an Instagram post, the social media skills that he developed for his personal purposes helped him when he was later shooting and planning content for clients.
Morgan Davis, the founder and creator of the art collective Distinctly Creative, said that the Instagram account she created after she graduated from Howard University helped her connect to people and develop her art and new business.
“No one pays me through Instagram,” she said. “Instagram for me has been a great way for me to market things and find people that would help me make this a reality.”
2. Learn to network through social media
George said that he only knew one person in the United States when he moved here from Canada in 2013. Since being here, he said that he’s met many people through Instagram – including his business partner who is also a close friend.
“I want to meet everyone who ever does anything great on Instagram ever,” he said. “It’s literally how I met every person I know in D.C.”
George said that he messaged people whose accounts he liked visually and asked if they would like to meet up for tea.
Rose Jaffe, a local artist, said that she reaches out to other street artists in D.C. and when she travels through Instagram. Jaffe said that she will message artists and comment on their posts to start a dialogue.
“It’s an amazing way to connect with people that I have not found on any other platforms,” Jaffe said.
3. Create content and tell stories
Oliver Contreras, a photographer for the Washington Post, freelance photographer and multimedia director of DC Visual Creative, said that Instagram is his favorite social media platform because it is allows everyone to tell stories through photos.
“We all have access to Instagram, so we can all be photographers and photojournalists,” he said. “Social media provides you a platform where you can show whatever you want, but there are no limits.”
Contreras said that it’s important to use Instagram and other social media to showcase talent and be professional. He added that he doesn’t like to see a lot of selfies on social media and that people need to be mindful about what they are posting and how they frame themselves on social media.
“I want to see stories. That’s my thing,” he said.