With the emergence of Instagram in 2010 and the birth of Snapchat in 2012, the 2010s decade was inundated with countless double-taps, funky filters, and selfies to satisfy our sharing desires.
On the flip side, the growth of these popular social media platforms electrified a wave of fearmongering among experts and opinionists about the consequences of being sucked into a digital world where ones worth is based on likes, followers, and comments.
“This self-obsessed digital realm is creating a bunch of vapid robots!” some say.
“Instagram and its ilk are nicking at the self-esteem of our youth!” many warn.
“No one communicates face-to-face anymore! It’s all about DMs and tweeting!” a few lament.
But what about the good that social media has done for this decade? If we swat away the social-media-is-the-devil drivel, we can find that Instagram, Snapchat, and other interactive digital platforms have taught us one important lesson we all should take with us into 2020:
The power to build a brand is in your hands.
Back in 2015, as a business journalist for a platform called MadameNoire, I interviewed Ade Hassan, the founder of a popular hosiery and lingerie line. Hassan spearheaded the line because she was frustrated with the lack of chocolate-hued nude clothing. After all, nude clothing is meant to blend in with one’s skin tone, and many “nudes” on the market were far too light and did not cater to women of color.
That’s when Hassan launched Nubian Skin.
Hassan put together a visually stunning photoshoot that featured four beautiful models of color who gorgeously showed off the Nubian Skin nude lingerie line.
Social media went crazy! Hassan’s Nubian Skin campaign went viral, engulfing Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram with its eye-catching visuals. When I spoke to Hassan on the phone, she told me she was on vacation while millions gushed over her Nubian Skin campaign that spread throughout the global social media landscape. Before her holiday, she only had 200 followers on Instagram. By the time she came back, her Instagram followers climbed to a whopping 20,000.
“Because of that, it got picked up by a lot of mainstream media. We had The Independent, The Mail Online, and BuzzFeed asking for the rights to use our images,” Hassan said told me. “It was the craziest time.”
A short time after our phone call, Hassan’s marketing team got in touch with me to let me know that Nubian Skin was now available at a large retailer – Nordstrom!
It was in that moment that Hassan inspired me to take my life into my own hands and embrace the same lesson that Hassan learned – the power to build my own brand is in my hands.
Hassan didn’t need to wait for “the powers that be” to see something special in her vision for Nubian Skin; she utilized social media to mobilize support for her mission to create a nude line that women of color desperately craved.
In the same way, in having a hobby in the new age and spirituality space, I decided to launch my own YouTube channel in 2017. In under a year, I attracted 20,000 subscribers. These subscribers morphed into becoming prospective customers as I published a new book for Amazon Kindle users in the summer of 2018.
In just a few hours, the book, which has five-star reviews to date, became the best-selling book in Amazon’s New Age and Spirituality sector, and transformed into becoming an incredible source of passive income flowing into my bank account every month.
Without social media and YouTube, I would have never been able to build the audience I needed to experience a successful wave of sales with my best-selling Amazon e-book. Thanks to the explosion of social media in this decade, many others have experienced the same fruitful advantages of Instagram and its ilk – and that’s having the ability to attract a niche audience to one’s product or service without having to go through several middlemen to directly reach their target consumers.
With social media awarding us the benefit of having sole power over developing our brands, surely we can stomach a few self-obsessed selfies and false facades on social media, right?
As we say goodbye to 2019 and an entire decade, the most important lesson we’ve learned throughout the past 10 years is that we have the power to leverage the internet – most specifically, social media – to benefit our pockets, livelihood, and lifestyle.