How to Cultivate Online Relationships
March 2018 // By Natalie Jean
I was thinking the other day about how grateful I am for social media and the friendships and partnerships that I've created online through them. Seriously, my business and my art and my passions are all fueled, shared, and grown through social media.
While there are times I want to throw my phone across the room (ahem, the new IG algorithm) there are other times where I am so inspired and excited about the projects I'm working on with people around the world that I otherwise would have no way of meeting if it wasn't for online communities and apps that connect people.
Today I wanted to share a few ideas on how you can not only create online friendships but also cultivate them!
Comment - When you're on social media (twitter, facebook, instagram, etc.) interaction is huge! Simply liking a photo is fine but it doesn't really mean anything. Its like the equivalent of smiling kindly or holding the door open for someone. You need to put yourself out there if you want a relationship to form!
I noticed such a growth in interaction when I genuinely commented and replied to comments/tweets from people. In fact, that's how a lot of my online interactions became friendships! For example, I started to answer questions that a girl on instagram would ask in her captions. Then I would comment on photos that I loved. Things like "cool" and "love it" aren't going to cut it! Comment on things your truly like, wonder, or think about and that starts to open the door for more interaction. Eventually we started working together on collaborations and now I consider her to be one of my good online friends. We haven't met in person yet, but one day hopefully!
Instagram Pods - I've met some really great people and found some really cool accounts to follow on Instagram through pods. What started out as a few people with similar photography or blogging styles in a pod is now a collection of women who know more about each other and can encourage one another and cheer each other on... you know, community! What social media should be used for.
Comment your IG handle below if you're interested in joining an IG pod and I'll do my best to set one up :)
Facebook groups are also really awesome ways to create community. A few that I am a part of that I love (not only because they help your reach and boost engagement, but because you can actually meet people and learn from them/grow relationships) are Blog Passion Project, #yearofme, and Unraveled Academy Student Group. Those are my most visited FB groups at the moment, but I occasionally participate in several photography groups as well as The Rising Tide Society group.
By joining groups, you expose yourself to so many new people and who knows? Maybe you'll find one or two, or six or ten people with similar interests and personalities that just click with yours!
So now that you've made some new friends and created an online friendship, you'll want to cultivate those relationships and keep them growing! One idea would be to create a mastermind group. A friend of mine, Rosalynne, shared a little bit about a mastermind group that she is in over on her blog. I love this idea!
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet up with some fellow creative ladies at an airbnb where we took styled photos and had a great day just chatting and being creative. We all followed one another on Instagram for a little but this was a perfect day to finally meet and connect and it just felt great to be among like-minded women who love to be creative and celebrate community too. Scheduling a meet-up might sound difficult, but you never know what could happen! You'll get a chance to connect further than social media allows and have tons of fun memories afterwards.
If you're feeling lonely or getting caught up in the comparison game or FOMO that social media can so often cause, don't stay there. Take a deep breath and start reaching out. Create a mastermind group where you encourage and challenge one another, join a comment pod on IG, share blog posts and photography/artwork from content creators you admire, let COMMUNITY be your focus and don't be afraid to meet new people. You'll be glad you did!
Also, if it doesn't work out the first time or you don't connect right off the bat don't worry! Keep trying and keep putting yourself out there. Although it may be frustrating at times, social media can be used for connection and community growth. Just keep at it.