Posted 07 May 2019

You don’t have to share everything: Social media advice from Dazed’s Ahmad Swaid

Social media is a growing concern for many emerging creatives. Between knowing what to post, how many times and when, or on which platform, it’s enough to send your head swirling. And while there’s no definitive approach, there are some universal points that are worth considering. So who better to ask for some handy pointers than Dazed Media’s head of social media, Ahmad Swaid. Here, Ahmad talks about the different ways you can use various platforms, the benefits of following and aligning yourself with relevant communities, and of course, remembering to spell-check before you post.

Your social media profile is like your CV; I’ve been approached for projects and jobs solely based on my Instagram. As head of social media for Dazed, my main day-to-day is spent focusing on overall strategy and content, and I work with a fantastic and talented team of social editors across the group. My career in social and digital began when I worked at Garage magazine, which was an exciting time as I had free reign to experiment on social, and it really taught me everything I know now. Here are some of my most important learnings for promoting and best representing yourself through your social media platforms:

Post the best
Remember that you don’t have to share everything; a bit of mystery is one of the best ways to build a memorable profile. Make sure you showcase your skills (for example your photography or Photoshop know-how) as much as you can. Posting multiple times every day or every other day is good for visibility, but just post what feels relevant to you – not for the sake of it. I go through spells where I won’t post for a while; it’s just about knowing what – and when – feels natural to you.

Different platforms do different things
In terms of having personal and work accounts, I think it’s best to combine both, so it feels organic, and not too disciplined. But keep in mind that there are different ways you can use your platforms; Instagram Stories and IGTV for example are the same platform but they are ‘different channels’.

“Post what feels relevant to you – not for the sake of it.”

Follow well
You can learn more about a person by seeing who they follow than what they actually post on their feeds. Instagram, Twitter…these are all communities. Follow the communities and cultures you want to align yourself with, and remember the ‘social’ as much as the ‘media’. It’s not just about just posting, but also engaging with other people’s content.

Proof it
Check your grammar, punctuation and spelling when you’re posting – people aren’t just watching, they are reading too!

Be playful and keep it varied
Don’t be afraid to try new things and have fun with it. If you’re not enjoying yourself, your audience probably won’t either. Also, on Instagram I find that most people get caught up in the idea of perfecting their grid and don’t allow room for spontaneity, but when has perfection ever been interesting? Showcase variety and let your Instagram evolve naturally. For example, if you are looking for a career in fashion, it doesn't mean you should only post fashion-related content.

Don’t copy
Let other sources, rather than other profiles, influence your content strategy. The best advice I ever got on how to use social media is this quote from John Baldessari’s ‘What Is Painting’ (1966-1968): “Do you sense how all the parts of a good picture are involved with each other, not just placed side by side? Art is a creation for the eye and can only be hinted at with words.”

And lastly, never take it too seriously…

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