I remember giving a talk several years ago where I talked about the different types of people on social media.
Of all of these personalities, the one I most identified with as defined in the linked article was ‘The Listener’. For most of my life, this is how I’ve interacted with social media content. Very rarely liking or responding to other’s posts, and my own content was even more scarce.
Bear in mind that I’ve been using social media since the early days of MSN Messenger, MySpace, and Bebo, and that’s a lot of content I’ve consumed, but never voiced my appreciation. Now, my aunts and uncles are probably not too bothered and to be honest, their content is not usually worth the time. But looking back, I do regret not showing my appreciation for the creators that I regularly enjoyed.
As someone who is now continually creating content, I know the value of feeling appreciated. Every single like, retweet, and comment is meant to provide a shot of dopamine I know, but more than that, they can be used as markers to improve the quality of my work. Whilst I know the importance of producing content that I enjoy creating, the feedback gleaned from social media once that content has been published is invaluable. When particular posts perform well or poorly, you get to ask why, learn from it, and move on to the next one.
But the value of liking content is not just for the creator, but also for the consumer. If you actually like content purposefully and follow creators who you consistent like, it allows you to build an understanding of what you as a consumer like. This benefits you in two ways:
First, it improves your online experience. As I’ve intentionally followed photographers, filmmakers, tech creators, and industry experts across a variety of fields, I’ve found it a great place to learn, expand my horizons, and get better at curation itself. At the beginning, I was regularly following people I would later unfollow after finding that I actually only liked one of their several thousands posts. Now, I can judge an Instagram grid, Twitter feed, or YouTube video in a few seconds and know whether this is someone I want to invest my time in.
Second, it makes you a better creator. As you curate your feed to show you content you love, it inspires you to create, and it informs you what you should create. Visualize Value showed me a style of graphic design I would love to emulate, Oliur produces product photography that makes me want to buy everything, and Luke Stackpoole takes landscapes photos that inspire me to pick up a camera every day. This makes these social media apps as much of a learning platform for me as an entertainment portal, which is exactly what I want to get out of all the content I consume online.
So do me a favour, the next time you appreciate something: take a second to smash that like button, comment, and subscribe.