My online media use involves many different activities and documenting every one of these became very difficult. Therefore throughout this essay I will be focusing solely on social media and the way I have used it in previous years to create my online brand. This brand was initially established through the creation of a fashion and lifestyle related Youtube channel but has since expanded to various other platforms. When I first created this channel I had very little experience in media and had to teach myself all the skills needed to run it. In this essay I will explore how I did this, as well as share the ways I use online media to create content and promote it to an audience.
Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) discuss Web 2.0 as being a participatory development in the nature of the Web whereby content is no longer “created and published by individuals” but is now being “continuously modified by all users.” This describes the way in which we use social media as a way to collaborate and interact with one another. An element of Web 2.0 is User Generated Content (UGC), which refers to the “various forms of media content that are publicly available and created by end-users” (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). If this is published publicly, shows creative intent and isn’t produced for professional means then it is UGC. Social media allows for the creation and exchange of this content, allowing us to share our beliefs and establish ourselves online.
In order to gather information on my online media usage I utilised the activity archives on social media platforms and also looked at my browser history. Through this I discovered that the majority of my time online is spent on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Tumblr, Snapchat and Instagram. Some of this activity was passive, where I simply viewed content posted by other people but I also distributed content through re-blogging photos on Tumblr and Pinterest.
I spent time interacting with my viewers through posting a photo on Instagram, creating a curated Spotify playlist and sending multiple tweets to update them on my life. I also dedicated time to keeping up with my Youtube ‘work’; replying to comments on my videos, getting inspiration through watching other videos, making thumbnails and watching tutorials to learn new filming and editing skills.
I have never really thought about how I first learnt to make Youtube videos before this assignment, however as I made my channel almost 7 years ago it is unbelievable to see just how much I’ve learnt about filming and editing. Through engaging in informal self education I have been able to develop the skills needed to run a successful channel. I initially learnt these skills by watching other people’s videos, recreating their filming and editing effects by experimenting with the tools in Windows Movie Maker. Over time I built up a repertoire of effects and also started watching online tutorials to gather tips and new skills, helping me create a more personal style and aesthetic within my videos.
There are also a set of conventions within Youtube videos that shaped the way I approached making them. In Burgess, Green and Jenkins’ analysis on Youtube (2009), they suggest that there is a “joint knowledge of conventional means of doing things” on Youtube, or in other worlds a “cultural system” that is determined through its users “uploading, viewing, discussing and collaborating.” The specific conventions within the genre of videos I make are the use of title cards, monochrome colourisation, and a personal tone, with the videos generally being set to different remixes or mashups. I follow these conventions in majority of my videos, whilst also adding personal touches through my filming backgrounds as well as my editing style where I use different fonts, animated texts and music that reflects my own taste.
While Youtube offers the platform, services and community to share content, Burgess, Green and Jenkins (2009) discuss how many Youtubers “move their content back and forth between multiple sites” due to it’s lack of tools to interact effectively with viewers. My media use reinforces this idea as I utilise multiple platforms to provide viewers with a closer and more detailed look at my life. The aesthetic and ideas of my channel are maintained across these pages in an attempt to establish a personal brand. I post well-taken and edited Instagram photos that fit to a particular theme at least once a week. I also regularly tweet about things that I like and am excited about, curate Spotify playlists of my favourite songs and reblog pictures that I currently relate to on Tumblr. Everything posted to these platforms is thought out and planned in order for me to ensure that it represents and promotes my brand in the way I want it to.
The establishment of my brand and audience as well as what I’ve learnt in regards to filming, editing and online optimisation are skills that I believe will help me greatly in my pursuit of a career in social media management. These skills would have otherwise had to have been learnt formally, thus proving the power the online world has in regards to offering everyday people the ability to teach themselves new media skills through their participation in Youtube and other online media activities.
One of the main issues with my essay is that I was unable to reflect back to a lot of my documentation as the busyness of the week prevented me from completing many of my usual Youtube related tasks. I feel as if this has lessened the essay’s credibility and has prevented me from truly evaluating the activities undergone in the week documented. Additionally, I could have linked to a wider range of readings, particularly as the main reading I linked to was written in 2009 and its information was slightly dated. However, I found this task extremely interesting and the insights discovered will positively influence the way I utilise online media.
Burgess, J, Green, J & Jenkins, H, 2009, Youtube, Willey, ProQuest.
Kaplan, A.M. & Haenlein, M 2010, Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media, Business Horizons, vol. 53, pp. 59-68.