You may be using social media wrong by using it right

When blogging first came along, people were mostly posting a certain kind of content on their blogs - daily life updates. So blogs got the reputation of being like online diaries. People laughed at this, asking why would anyone like to share their life in a diary anyone can read.

When Twitter was new, people posted about the moment-by-moment inanities of their life - their babies and cats and about how they were eating ice cream. Twitter therefore got the reputation of being about inane things. It wasn't until much later that things got political here.

There is a tendency to define tools as their most common use case. I remember features with headlines looking like "what do bloggers think about X". As if bloggers were a hive mind that thinks as a unit. These days there are news reports summarising "what Twitter thinks of X".

Similarly, podcasts have a reputation. And that is that they are interviews. As reputations go, this is not the worst reputation ever. But it is still limiting. Audio content can be literally anything. But because of this reputation, many who begin podcasts start thinking in terms of interviews / conversations. The number of podcasts with "me and my buddies talking about random stuff" as a theme isn't small and it doesn't help this reputation problem either. There is nothing in the form of any of these mediums that makes their function inevitable.

Any web-based tool that is looking to gain traction in a saturated market of web tools is going to have to contend with the reputation problem. Tumblr was a blogging tool that got an adult content reputation. Patreon had to take steps to avoid that same fate. Facebook has a sanghi reputation and Twitter has a abuse reputation.

The reason I am bringing this up is that a lot of us don't go for a certain tool because we feel we don't have the permission to use it as something other than what it was meant for. We don't podcast because we think we have nobody to interview. We don't post text essays on Instagram because we think of it as something meant for photographers, models, and people who click pictures of their food.

I remember how, a few years ago, when someone asked me the best way to start their own website and I recommended WordPress, people used to respond with "but that's a blogging tool". Sure it was, but people found ways to use it as so much more. Today, international media groups have their high-traffic sites powered by WordPress.

Don't let what people say about a tool hold you back from using it in new and innovative ways. I am a writer. The most common sense solution for me would be a blog right? Or at least? Guess what? My readers are mostly on Instagram - an app allegedly meant for models and photographers.

The world only looks a certain way. If you reach out with your hand, grab something and twist, it will bend to serve you. Don't wait for permission. Try to write a novel on Instagram, or run a news outlet on Twitter, or make 30-second videos on YouTube and use an email newsletter to send them out to your subscribers instead of relying on the algorithm. You will fail many many times, but you will learn more from those mistakes than you will following what everyone else is doing like good little kids.

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