Truth can be found almost anywhere, if you’re looking. I think I may have found a bit in the wild and woolly world of social media.
In my former life, I was a full-time entertainment journalist. You live and die by clicks and shares in modern journalism, so it’s an unequivocal demonstration of what people care about, and what they don’t. Now, I’m a part-time journalist, a part-time screenwriter and a full-time social-media manager. The last, while not sounding nearly as interesting on the face of it (trust me, it is), has been startlingly instructive and a bit humbling.
As my friends might tell you, “I have a theory” often comes out of my mouth. Amid the avalanche of information on how to create content that goes viral (or at least doesn’t sink like a stone) — some boneheaded and some quite good — I’ve boiled it down to a simple theory:
You can’t force anyone to like anything. It’s always a persuasion, a negotiation, and, at times, a futile pursuit. You can labor over something, put your heart and soul into it, and have the audience spit it out like cold oatmeal.
As a creative person, you can opt for following the research and the polls and just deliver people what they say they like — which, near as I can tell, is cat videos, teen vampires and weird solutions to anything (or, if it’s me, puppy and animal-friends videos, and personality quizzes) — but while that might please the audience, it’s no fun for you. But if there’s something you love, and that coincides with what the audience loves, well, that’s just heaven.
It doesn’t fit neatly on the meme, but as for number two, I can also say — good luck with that. If you can figure out what God wants for you, bravo. But if you can bring what you want in line with what He wants, now there you have something.
Does having composed these theories mean I always know what content works or what to do with my life? I wish. But the more I think about them, the more useful they are as a measuring stick and an instrument of humility.
Here’s to hoping they’re useful for you as well.
Images: Creative Commons (license)