The struggle is real


Today’s challenge was to grab people’s attention with clever social media, to make people stop swiping and read my post, maybe even like it, or share it with their friends.

Since February I’ve been managing communications for Queensland Fencing. It’s fun. I enjoy it. Not sure I’m brilliant at it, but occasionally something I produce will gain traction. The metrics on the page are good. Not stunning, but good.

But how do I gain a larger audience?

My research tells me to tap into the zeitgeist, to know what people are talking about and join in the conversation. This should be done with wit and sass and, of course, a good picture.

I went to the library to write today, determined to finish at least one of the half-written stories sitting in my filing cabinet. But before doing any real work, the sort I might hope to sell, I tried my hand at trend chasing on social media. I wanted to link in with chatter on the airwaves, to craft a post for the fencing page that would ride the wave of current events straight into a thousand phone feeds.

So I ordered a large flat-white coffee and a Smartie biscuit and found a corner table in the library cafe. It was quiet, thanks to the Ekka, and I set to work.

At first glance, social media and its trivial obsessions (cats, goats, reality TV) is a far cry from story telling. But really, the demands are the same. A good story will connect with people, just like a viral social media post does. While great art should stand on its merits, there’s no shame in knowing your audience.

I’m boss on the theory but in practise I struggled. I struggled with themes and imagery and hashtags. It could be a lack of communication skills or it could be I’m just not funny (or cool, or wry). Design skills are definitely in short supply. Whatever the reason, my efforts were #lame.

Eventually, my coffee long finished and the biscuit a mere crumbly memory, I settled on this hilarious stab at the current constitutional crisis.

Fencer by descent (2)

See? Not zeitgeist. If I was hip I’d find a relationship between fencing and The Bachelor. Only I can’t bring myself to watch this inane and offensive television show.

And therein lies the rub.

After consulting some younger and more attuned fencing fanatics, who were polite but sceptical about my clumsy attempt to find parallels with government and sport, I shelved the graphic and subtext, and instead posted a boring promo with a photo from my own collection.

I doubt audience numbers will spike* and the only real writing I managed today was this post. As well as knowing my audience, perhaps its time to own my limitations.


*At the time of publication post reach stood at 213 with seven likes #dismal


Angela Bensted Bw 1x1
Angela Bensted is a Brisbane-based freelance writer who likes to listen first and struggle with syntax later. She pitches stories to magazines and helps businesses produce compelling copy for print and online.
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