"A Strategy of Love : I place love at the centre of my social media strategy, creating community, honouring integrity. I am part of a new age, helping the planet onto the next stage."
First, some context:
In this rapidly world of social media, people have become much less tolerant of overt marketing. Much of that is probably down to Facebook and its ilk and the constant promoted posts that can alienate rapidly. That's all a consequnce of the flawed model of 'free' social media. As Dmitri Leonov argued in Mashable several years ago "There’s a lot to be said for creating something of real value and charging money for it. If you’re not charging for your product, then your users are the product".
In many ways, as 'free' still predominates, we have seen so many aspects of the worst side of social media over the last year with the revelations about Facebook's shortcomings and questionable business practices (Campfire's Project on Facebook and Social Media has some resources and links to articles)
In a very readable, enjoyable and inspiring book, Glastonbury-based new age hipster Katie Brockhurst is clear on what should work for all, keeping your energy truthful, remembering that fear is an energy that contracts and love is an energy that expands. 'Social Media for a New Age' is all about expanding your message, your community and much more. "Love is one of the most powerful energies on our planet and it is absolutely free to give and to receive"
Early on, she identifies the 'social media vortex of doom' that we've all come to dread - the sense that so many posts are either driven by erroneous algorithms, that everyone is having a better time than we are, that people are constructing a false image of themselves to boost their ego and try and score points. Or just the plain fact that Zuck's algorhithms are out of kilter with our own circadian rhythms and our newsfeed really just isn't in tune with what we want to read.
Brockhurst's ethos is grounded in a very south-western, cutting-edge sense of truth. She says "Social Media Ego vs Social Media Soul : Likes feel good, follows and comments too. Nothing wrong with that, until it becomes all that we pursue. It can affect our value, but is it true. There is nothing to do. Just be you."
"Your vibe attracts your tribe : When we show up and shine, sharing our essence, our vibe, the ones we attract are our friends and are our tribe. No need to search, so far and so wide. Let your energy align, Bringing the right ones to your timeline"
And then there's the realisation that we might just be addicted, to both our mobile phones and to the nagging desire to constantly check back - has my post been liked? Shared? Commented upon? Do I have new followers? And that doom-laden dawning that people just haven't seen our post or haven't responded at all or blanked us.
In terms of addictive clickbait and a platform tailor-made to breed narcissism, there are very few businesses doing it more effectively than Facebook right now. Add to that, the polarisation of opinions and damage to democracy that are causing people to leave. Literally as I write this article, I've been distracted by an alert (I thought I'd disabled them) and it's a response to a friend who has just posted this:
"Folks, I am going to delete my FB account at the end of this week once I've backed up all my data, photos etc.. I've been mulling it over for a many, many months...as much as I love keeping in touch with all my lovely friends and family (especially difficult when flying around the world so much) - I will try to do so via the odd Instagram, WhatsApp, phone calls and much more real face to face contact! Including the occasional hand written note / letter (just posted my first snail mail, non-business letter in years). Why? Creeping unease at the pervasiveness of FB, the damage it is doing to democracy, the distortion of truth, the polarisation of opinions and just general bollox. Its also become an irritating distraction in my own life...not hugely, but a little like grit under my eyelid. I encourage you all to do the same - I think it's time is up. Hope to see as many of you as I can, very soon; Offline!! Big love...Simon x"
And not even a mention for the ads and algorithms that throw commercialism at the user and also underpin the 'surveillance capitalism' business model. On ads, Brockhurst quotes one of her own community how the constant prompts, increase in adverts and sponsored posts in Instragram feeds and stories make them feel and the answers speak for themselves.
"Very annoying. The energy feels sharp."
"Feels intrusive, like I'm not on my own phone"
"Messing with my mojo, I feel like they broke Instragram"
"Invasion of my personal virtual space"
For Brockhurst, social media's panacea starts with trust, transparency, spontaneity and real world substance over gloss. "For me, evolution includes more transparency, less formulaic and less interruptive...We have lost sight of a real world substance behind a pretty social media feed or sales funnel"
Success is highly dependent on levels of authenticity, it's about cultivating a community, a social media practice and discipline that gives you the framework to support and reward your bravery or solo-preneurial energy and convert that effort into fans, followers and ultimately community. "Authentic means genuine, real and true. It's when we try too hard to be authentic that it feels yucky...Conversation is where conversion is really at"
As she says "It only takes the right person to see one post, to offer you that gig, or that collabboration or recommend you to someone, to bring about the thing you dream of."
There are extensive and useful words on the practical scheduling of a strategy and how to go about it in steps. Social media success won't just happen by magic now there are so many of us using it every day. Previously, it was much easier to create magic at the drop of a hat. The gift of being able to share photos, tunes, articles, insights, visions, hopes and dreams has over time become subsumed by the ills of modern life - the suspicion, the mistrust, the chaos and negativity, the divisiveness, the pervading neoliberal requirement for of winners and losers, the polarities, the sheer divides, the gaping faultlines that now exist. Social media has to make moves that shadow wider society, moves from 'what's in it for me?' or 'what can I get out of this?' to environments where we all build something of value together that can benefit us all collectively first and from there, individually; to a place where we each earn kudos for playing our part in contributing to that community. I hold on to the sense of hope in that utopian vision and sense that Katie Brockhurst has her own vision of hope that runs pretty much in parallel.
At the end of the day, there are new paradigms that are cutting through many things. A new age requires an enlightened outlook. Social media is at the cutting edge and deserves new models that truly put community and conscious transformation first in an authentic way and that aren't just about empty platitudes, bullshit and bollocks.
It's no surprise to me or to Katie that ultimately, this goes back to love - my take on this three years ago was "After all is said and done, that word 'love' has to be on the agenda. It was a comment from my friend Mark Offord “The love factor is missing from social networking” that convinced me, as much as anything, that the time was right to have a stab at creating a social network with that love factor at its heart, one that worked for the good of all and was built on an affordable, sustainable model."
Brockhurst's book, whilst less about new types of social network platforms, successfully outlines her positive philosophy of life that has the potential to breathe magic into anyone's social media strategy but will also carry them much further once the mobile is off or the laptop closed She says "A Strategy of Love : I place love at the centre of my social media strategy, creating community, honouring integrity. I am part of a new age, helping the planet onto the next stage."