Social media gives creators financial boost

Mykel Hilliard, Opinions Editor

Over the last 20 years, social media has become a huge part of our everyday lives – from the early days of websites such as Myspace, to modern-day social media giants such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.

According to PEW Research, around 70% of Americans use social media to share information, seek entertainment and connect. With so many people flocking to social media, many of the apps have made changes to give users the best experience.

While some users have criticized the platforms for launching similar features, I don’t mind. As a part-time content creator, I have been able to use this to my advantage, as social media companies move toward becoming more creator-friendly, which in turn helps creators reach audiences beyond their social media following.

When I first began posting my creative photography during the pandemic, I was just doing it to pass the time. As my account grew and I began seeing my audience grow, I realized I could build something bigger. Two years later, my posts landed me on media outlets such as PopSugar, Blavity and The Kelly Clarkson Show. 

During the pandemic, millions of people worldwide took to the short-form video sharing app TikTok. According to research done by Cloudfare, a technology blog, by the end of 2021 TikTok had surpassed internet giants Facebook and Google in overall internet traffic.

In 2010, Instagram was originally launched as a photo-sharing app. Since then, it has expanded to include more features including shops, direct video messaging and more. Over the last several years, the app has rebranded its video content into Reels, which are meant to rival TikTok’s popular short-form videos.

In a video published via Twitter, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said the company was shifting to include more video content on users’ feeds, due to more users liking and sharing video content rather than photos. “I need to be honest,” he said. “I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become videos over time.”

Many people have been outspoken about their disdain for “Reels.” Media mogul, Kylie Jenner, shared an image on her Instagram in opposition to Reels saying: “Make Instagram Instagram again. (Stop trying to be TikTok. I just want to see cute photos of my friends.) Sincerely, everyone.”

Jenner’s older sister, Kim Kardashian, shared the post as well. “PRETTY PLEASE,” she said.

When Reels launched, I was confused, so I held off from posting them, thinking they would take away from my static photo content. However, after integrating them into my content strategy, I saw a huge increase in engagement.

From July 2022 to October 2022, I saw a 200% increase in engagement, which I’m not sure I would have seen if I had not included Reels in my posting strategy. Eventually, Instagram gave me access to their Bonuses fund, which allows me to get paid for my views, finally turning my photography into a profitable business.

I find it interesting when I see people criticize social media updates and changes. At the end of the day, these social media platforms are a business. No successful business can stay stagnant and maintain popularity.

Whenever I see my fellow creators complain about social media’s ever-changing dynamics, I remind them of how big of a tool it can be if you stay consistent and believe in yourself.

Several members of my family do creative projects, including my mom and my grandmother. I recently sat down with my grandmother to collaborate on a few ideas. She expressed how lucky our generation is to have the platforms we have.

As an 87-year-old Black woman growing up in the south, she faced racism, sexism and more when she attempted to get her creative projects off the ground.

I take her story with me every time I get discouraged to post on social media. What may seem like the normal part of life for this generation seems like power at our fingertips to the generations who came before us. While not perfect, social media is a tool, and if used correctly, it can be life-changing.