Social media has transformed the way we connect, share and shop. So much so that it has been given its own special day of recognition with 30 June being officially Social Media Day.
There are now over 1 billion of us on Instagram and for a growing community it has offered opportunities not only socially, but for their careers too. I spoke to five Instagram influencers about how a living a life on social media has changed them.
Given its huge impact, it’s little surprise that Instagram has received its fair share of criticism. Due to its effect on anxiety levels and depression, last year it was found to be the worst social network for our mental health. Fashion blogger @stylendipity admits she had some initial reservations about sharing her photos on the platform.
“As a woman who is older, curvier and more culturally diverse than the stereotypical ‘fashion girl’, I was concerned my confidence would take a beating. The industry has always been brutal. But through sharing on Instagram, I’ve learnt to love who I am. My followers relate to my diversity and social media has become my safe haven that allows me to feel good about myself.
“It has also lead to some amazing opportunities, like being featured in Vogue and sitting front row at Fashion Week. I’ve gone from striving for perfection to unapologetically confident. I still pinch myself every single day.”
Others describe it as a double edged sword. @chrizellelategan explains: “I think that there is definitely a fine line when it comes to social media and confidence. There were times that I hated it and times that I loved it – for all the wrong reasons. I had to realise that my confidence can’t come from another’s approval of me. It is something I had to work on.
“We are all unique with something special to offer the world and I love how social media showcases that. People’s vision and creativity come to life and it is so inspiring to see.”
This ‘showcasing’ is one of the most celebrated aspects of social media. Instagram is a free app that anyone can download and use as they wish. It democratises in the way that people all over the world, and from all walks of life, have the same opportunity to have their voice heard and gain opportunities.
As one half of an influencer power couple, social sharing is a way of life for @brodie.worrell. She says that creating content alongside parter @withjamescarter has not only been fun – but has enabled her to pursue a new business venture.
“Social media has changed the way I live and work. Without it, my online fashion store Baby Boheme simply wouldn’t exist. It helps me to connect with so many people and, since around 90% of sales come directly from Instagram, has helped the store be successful.”
This is particularly powerful when you consider careers that were once seen as exclusive or connections-dependant. Influencer and photographer @whatshepictures agrees: “Using social media to market my freelance photography has opened up opportunities for me to work with brands around the world. I’ve made friends who have inspired or advised me. It allows me to scale my business in ways that weren’t possible before.”
As a DJ and fashion influencer, @_charlesoliver_ has a career many dream of. All thanks to Instagram he says: “The opportunities social media have given me are just mind-blowing, I have only been doing it for a couple of years now but I have worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. It has changed my life and allowed to pursue a career doing what I love.”
According to these influencers, for as many career opportunities it offers, there are as many social benefits too.
@chrizellelategan found new friends were an unexpected perk: “As a South African immigrant new to Australia it was hard meeting new people, especially without being in school or university. Many of my closest friends are actually people I met through social media and I’m so grateful. Like my friend Alex, I followed her on Instagram then just happened to see her in a supermarket one day. I had no idea she lived in Australia or even in my city. I wrote to her and the rest is history! Social media connects people in a way that nothing else really can.”
@brodie.worrell agrees: “It has also opened up so many pathways for me socially as I have been able to make friends within the influencer community. My little Sydney gang all connected through social media. It’s something I often think about and will always be grateful for. I couldn’t live without it to be honest!”
Want to see the evolution of social media from 1997 to today? Check out this INFOGRAPHIC social media timeline >
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