How you present yourself online can have as much of an effect as how you present yourself in real life, which can be good or bad depending on who you are. The big “threat” that people use is that everything you post is out there forever. While that is true, how many people are actually going to be looking that closely at the stuff you are posting?
People use social media for different reasons and therefore their digital personas differ. There are a group of people known as “twitterstorians” who are basically historians on twitter. They run their accounts on a professional level, posting news articles and facts. Generally they are not very personal accounts, unless they are posting opinions on current news or even historical events. What makes them different from me is that they have a professional account and I run personal accounts. For the most part, my goal is not to appeal to professionals and strangers, it is to talk to people I know. I run this blog for class, which is 98% professional and academic and 2% bad jokes and references. I also have started a site for my photography in order to keep my works in an easily accessible place. However, I have many other accounts on different platforms and I don’t see a need to run them in a professional way. That’s not to say I am unprofessional, I try to keep most of the stuff I post appropriate for a general audience because my name is attached to it, but I don’t see a need right now for me to run professional accounts. For example, my twitter currently consists of tweets about podcasts, movies, music, and my terrible sleeping habits.
I do not really have a lot of followers, nor is that my goal. I have accounts because I enjoy the platform (or got sucked in and I can’t leave) and I want to share my thoughts and art with people who want to see them. If you are trying to get followers, I would first start with friends. The support at the beginning of people you know will kickstart your account. From there you can try branching out, replying to similar accounts with your ideas and thoughts and utilizing search tools, like hashtags. Not everyone or every topic is going to be successful so it involves trial and error, but just because your following is small it doesn’t make it worthless so stick with it. An institution has the ability to promote their social media on their website and in the institution on fliers or even activities. For example, I was recently at the Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) where, in their exhibit, they prompted visitors to take pictures and use a specific hashtag when they posted in on Instagram. Other places do contests in a similar fashion. So an institution is going to have an easier time with promotions than a personal account. Just don’t be that person who comments on everything and says “check out my _____” because nobody likes that person and it is a guaranteed way to for me, at least, not to click on it.