Growing up, I was considered a shy kid. To be completely honest, I wasn’t popular, I wasn’t known for being the pretty one or being the funny one, I was very seriously average. When I was fourteen, I started growing into my own person- hanging out with a better crowd of friends who liked me for me, rather than the person I would be when I would try and fit in with other crowds. From a young age, I had always wanted to create but I always told myself that I had to be older. Looking back at it now, I wish I had never stopped myself from creating Youtube videos because I was so worried about what others would say about me rather than how I viewed myself. I wish I had never done that, I wish future me could’ve told highschool me that I could flourish if I were just myself.
I’ve spoken about it before, but I struggle with mixing content. I feel as if sometimes I have two different personalities online, but at the end of the day they’re both versions of myself. The whole “Instagram vs. Reality” is real, it’s seriously real.
In the late summer of 2016, I started an Instagram account for fun where I posted real life things that happened, things that frustrated me, moments with friends, and photos of my life behind the scenes. It wasn’t long before the entire high school was following (all 120 kids), but looking at it now, people came to view that content because it was me being me and nobody could take that away from me. Nobody wanted to put themselves online in their worst light, but I did and soon before long I was posting up to 3-4 times a day.
When I came to University, I was so attached to that account that the day some photos got deleted (due to an update, but came back), I literally sat in my dorm room and cried. I was that connected to my content and that audience that I was heartbroken. I felt like a part of my life was erased and in a way it was, but during that same if Instagram had wiped the content from my public Instagram account which is now my main account, I wouldn’t have cared a single bit. Reason being that whatever I was posting wasn’t really me, sure people followed me but the content just didn’t resonate the same way with people.
Fast forward to when I started modelling in Vancouver, I started posting photos of myself in my best light, even though at the end of the day I’m still a total goof. But my audience started seeing this person with this “perfect life,” and I honestly lost myself a bit in that content. Even though it was my face and my body in those photos, there were times where I asked myself if my content was good enough for my audience, and at those points I realized I couldn’t be my goofy self with them. This kind of storytelling doesn’t build understanding or emotional connections with audiences as it doesn’t showcase exactly who you are (Sherrett, 2012). Once I started my YouTube channel, I felt that I could show my audience more of my authentic self, and that has helped me build a better relationship with them.
People want to see real things- real people doing real things, going through real stuff because that’s life. That experience is what Van Praet (2014), calls “Mirror Neurons” which allows your audience to make emotional connections with your content. I’ve definitely faced several issues when rebranding myself but it comes with age, especially when you’re the face of your brand. I’m not one personality or the other, I’m just me and nobody is telling what to post or what to create. I stood in my own way due to my own insecurities because I was worried that I wouldn’t be relevant.
I hate that it’s taken me several times around the sun to realize that the brands that hit the hardest with their audience are those that are real with their audiences. I was more on track at seventeen than I was at nineteen. But 2020 is all about self love, self improvement, and self branding.
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Sherrett, M. (2012). Storytelling for Business: Do You Have a Story to Tell? Retrieved from https://www.boxcarmarketing.com/storytelling-for-business-do-you-have-a-story-to-tell
Tyler.krueger (2019, August 14). “As garb as they come” [Instagram post]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/B1K4uIujilp/
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Van Praet, D. (2014, January 9). Feeling Your Consumer: What Marketers Are Missing About Making Emotional Connections. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3022151/compassion-vs-competition-what-marketers-are-missing-about-making-emotional-connections