Social Media - friend or foe?

It’s fortunate social media didn’t exist when I was a student - I probably wouldn’t be a professional violinist writing this article for Musical Orbit right now. The worst I would do was practise with a copy of “Just 17” on the music stand – not often mind.. (I hope my parents aren’t reading this)  

Social media is great fun but when abused, can be a huge time waster. Some of my friends have bitten the bullet, gone cold turkey and abandoned their accounts after finding they spend too many hours stalking exes or getting irritated or depressed at the lives people seem to lead. That said, I personally love social media and am particularly active on Facebook, Twitter and of course am a sucker for pretty pictures on Instagram and Pinterest.

I recently took part in a webinar with Fran Wilson and our very own Musical Orbiter on the phenomenon that is social media. We covered many interesting topics, the main one being that social media if used correctly can be a great help for musicians. When I was a student if people wanted to advertise concerts they would go to an internet café, print out hundreds of flyers and fling them everywhere - not great for the environment and did anyone even read them? But now, in five minutes an “event” can be created on Facebook with some funky photos, and everybody you know is invited, all at the click of a button.  

A “page” can also be created to advertise yourself or your chamber group which doesn’t require paying someone to come up with a fancy website. On places like Twitter you can “tag” the players/concert venue you are playing in, tweet about it and hope this leads to retweets and more people seeing you and your performance. Feel you have something to say? You can blog or vlog about your experiences as a musician. And the best thing, all this is for FREE! 

Be inventive – photos always draw the eye. If you post video clips, keep them short, less than a minute if you can. In this instant culture not many people will be willing to give up two minutes to watch a video they’re not sure they will enjoy. You only have to look at violin soloist Ray Chen’s Instagram to see that he’s nailed the short hilarious comedy video to a tee. He’s a serious musician but has brought a much needed humour to classical music without compromising his integrity. 

Another topic we touched upon during our webinar was the important rule (whether using social media for personal or business use) of being respectful. Are you rude to your fellow man in person? I don’t think so, therefore don’t be rude online just because you are hiding behind a screen name. If you feel aggrieved at something you see, step away from the computer and think things through. We’ve probably all written something we regret online and even deleting it after the fact doesn’t change the fact that is was there and probably seen by many. Would you say this to a person’s face? If so then go ahead and be prepared for the consequences... After the first negative comment I received under a Youtube video I felt dismayed. I wanted to respond, but I eventually grew a thicker skin and can now laugh it off. Remember, no one is universally loved or even liked. 

So whether you are an occasional user looking up school friends and posting a few holiday snaps to a full-on “advertising your every move” person, I think we can all agree whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay so use it in the best way you know how and have fun with it! 

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