The impact social media has created reaches nearly every aspect of an individual’s life. Of the many impacts, I believe the immediate connections it makes possible to be the most important. An individual is able to reach their audience from wherever they have an internet connection, which is almost unlimited. The immediacy and scope of these interactions are beneficial in ways never seen before the advent of social media. Previously, to reach the number of people someone can via social media an individual would be forced to purchase some type of advertisement platform. However, social media allows for what may be the most efficient form of advertising free of charge. The only limitations are that of the individual’s drive. I have found that social media provides a form of alternative classifieds for advice, event advertisement, and what I like to call “crowdsourced hope”. Advantages such as these afforded by social media provide individuals attempting to start businesses greatly. The Instagram followers audience reached can be a nearly invaluable asset to someone such as myself.
With the help of a fellow student and close friend, I am in the process of starting a metal foundry. The small scale with which we will be working lands us in a rather niche workplace and a somewhat nonexistent market. The information necessary to create the tools with which we will be working–small scale furnaces, forges, and cupolas–is extremely hard to find. However, there is a small community of people who have expertise within this field. Many of them have decades of knowledge, but the community is spread all across the country; we only have access to them in person a couple of weeks out of the year. The immediate connectedness provided by social media allows the transfer of knowledge quite easily. We are able to tap into almost the entire aforementioned community due to this. This has helped with the sourcing of tools, information, blueprints, and additional contacts which have been incredibly valuable to us. This immediate communication has saved us almost innumerable hours.
The previously touched on the market or, more accurately, lack of market would be extremely difficult to navigate were we without the ability to access a social media audience. The product we are selling, personalized cast aluminum art and the experience of watching said art be poured, is not one people necessarily are aware of or seeking out. However, when individuals are aware of this experience, they find it fascinating. We attempt to do events at venues such as bars or piggyback onto art fairs, if possible. On social media, we are able to reach thousands of people in our area for free through combined efforts. The videos we post pique the interest of whoever sees them. Watching hot metal being poured is fascinating. The audience we need to reach is either those who will come to the event or those who will host it. It is far easier to convince a bar owner that you can do this event safely with the help of video evidence. Through the social media impact of my partner’s and my own efforts, we will be able to find venues to host events; we will also be able to reach a large customer base for free or you can buy active Instagram followers. Social media has provided an invaluable advertisement resource that has effectiveness directly affected by how hard we work.
Starting a business while in undergrad is not by any means an easy task. While balancing our homework, work, and class schedules, we also need to find the time to build a huge amount of equipment, plan events, and source materials. At times, all of the tasks on my plate seem to be practically insurmountable. Everything eats up so much time, and hope can wane at certain points. Oftentimes, we are working so hard at gnawing away the huge task list in our paths that we do not look back to see what we have already accomplished. We do not necessarily celebrate each other on our work ethic, and until we have a successful event, the job is nearly rewardless. An individual can only find joy in tedium for so long. This is where I see the importance of what I called “crowdsourced hope”. The community we have surrounded ourselves with on social media allows us to gain some type of reward for our struggles. When things are rough, we can turn to the encouragement from our peers, mentors, and other members of this small community we rest within for hope. Friends online have no qualms about letting us know how impressed they are with our goals and our progress. This type of encouragement is a sort of fuel for our work ethic. It allows us to see that others believe in our goals and pushes us to continue on with our work. This “crowdsourced hope” is likely the most important aspect of social media, to me. We have set ourselves on a huge task, and it would be easy to be discouraged were it not for the support of our digital peers.
Social media has provided me with multiple extremely valuable tools for my specific situation. It is the catalyst that will allow me to reach many of my goals. If I was not able to connect to the people I am afforded via social media, my goal of building a foundry would likely be unattainable. The immediate connectedness is almost certainly what will be the push we need to make our goals happen. It provides tools in advertisement and information sourcing that would have been expensive enough to block our dreams in a time before social media. More importantly than that, however, social media provides hope via encouragement from those who believe in us. This type of hope is without a doubt something one cannot put a dollar amount on. Without the tools afforded to us by social media, it is likely I would likely live life with unrealized dreams.