WLHQ: Social Media & Collaborative Community Creation
One month into my new role at Wanderlust, I realized our general Facebook engagement was slowing down. I frowned upon the sight of a steep slope on our analytics chart that indicated a drop in likes and responses. The very moment I realized our low engagement, an email came in from my boss, Subject: "Fresh." It read:
"We need some kind of fresh something. Cool contest or something crowd sourced. Not sure what it is -- but I'm thinking about it. Maybe we need a group brainstorm session."
As the WL Social Media gal, I man all our social boards almost around the clock, posting in the morning, afternoon, night, on weekends, holidays -- basically anytime and all the time. And the time spent not posting? Well, a lot of that time goes into thinking about what I will post - how I'm feeling that day that can be translated into something universally relatable for our community.
Since working at Wanderlust, the most valuable lesson has been that the greatest inspiration comes from collective collaboration. 10 brains are better than 1. And the best collaboration comes from being uninhibited with your ideas, sharing them without fear of feeling stupid, or having your idea shut down. It can be scary to suggest something that you really love. What happens if people laugh? Or find an obvious flaw in your plan that you overlooked? It's a risk you take, but just like all of life's greatest chances, no great idea has ever been realized without being shared.
After receiving Jeff's email, I went home and thought hard over dinner, before bed, in the shower when I awoke, on my walk to work….nothing. I was stuck. My ideas all felt dry, lifeless, too easy. I sent a handful of ideas around, but they weren't winners. It wasn't until my coworker Jess sent me a photo of one of our awesome Wayfarers where I found my inspiration.
"This girl does the craziest poses," Jess said, eyes wide, "I was thinking we could do a post on FB with a shoutout to her, something about Keeping Austin Weird."
Bingo. Lightbulb. Heart flutter. A photo contest about weird yoga! Keep Austin Weird with weird yoga poses. Or as my coworker Jake coined it, #KeepYogaWeird!
With lots of minds involved in the details, I launched the contest. Little did I know that the contest would be one of the best things I've ever done. That's my favorite part about this job - the endless element of surprise that comes from the inspiring online Wanderlust world. You guys don't miss a beat, and you're always there to contribute a comment or response that builds upon an idea. If I post about a rideshare, shortly thereafter two new friends link up. If I post an inspirational quote, soon family members are sending it to each other, and people are sharing how it's relatable to them at that moment. Once we launched our photo contest, hourly photo submissions of ridiculous and creative poses surfaced on Instagram with a rapid-fire spread of our hashtag #KeepYogaWeird.
My goal at Wanderlust is to create an online community of friends who converse about important topics of sustainability, health and wellness. I want this community to share their Wanderlust experience and suggestions, and most significantly, for this community to actually make new friends through conversing, and for those friendships to continue into real life. Social media critics will often say that online social networks isolate people from real life friendships. I agree, in some cases, but online networks can also have the opposite effect - encouraging and fostering new friendships from places all around the world. First, we must get over the stigmas of social media and the fear of looking like we "have no life" or are "in other people's business" or "not busy enough." Much like the necessity of voicing your thoughts in a group brainstorm to create a great idea, the only way to form a friendship in the online community is to actively contribute - your voice, your ideas, your suggestions and stories.
The reactions and responses from Caitlin Monroux's entry to our #KeepYogaWeird contest is the best example of how social media can create a community.
A few of my favorite comments on her photo:
Burr Tupper: "Weird never rocked so loud! The "weird" twists of our journey can be handled with the grace and courage to care for ourselves, tap into the divine and inspire the world around us. Caitlin you rock." (12 likes)
Annie Horsky McDonnell: This picture is proof that Yoga can help with any illness, emotion, etc. She is Rockin' the Yoga DURING CHEMO!!! Now that is keepyogaweird for sure!! GO CAITLIN!!
Sara Lyn: Wow! your Smile is Beautiful and could light up a room!! You are an inspiration!! I hope you win this contest!! Good Luck!! (4 likes)
@sexy_sexton: Gave me chills, truly inspiring!
@caitlinmarcoux: Thank you for all the support everybody. You're encouragement is so appreciated. This journey has included 18 rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy and reconstruction and 7 more months of targeted and hormonal therapy to go- but my yoga practice has been there for me all the way and has served me well. I don't know where I'd be without it. #nevergiveup #fightcancerwithyoga
The power of having Caitlin converse with our community about her story on our social platforms, well, it leaves me speechless. You can imagine how I felt to email Caitlin that she was our winner. I invited her just before running out of the office for a 7 hour drive down to Virginia. About 2 hours on the road, my heart filled with joy and my eyes filled with tears to read:
That's so exciting! I've never won a contest in my life, and this will be such a nice break from all the cancer drama I've been dealing with, and a great way to celebrate the transition from being a Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor.
Thank you so much! Yes, I would love to come.
I'm so grateful and fortunate to be the Social Media voice of Wanderlust Festival, an idea place with a mix of creatives, yogis, and business buffs. I'm even luckier that I get to communicate with our community daily. It is a wonderful gift. The #KeepYogaWeird was the first of many where we can come together and create awesome content. It's a never-ending cycle of inspiration, as long as we decide to contribute!
Olivia Millman is Wanderlust's Social Media maven who communicates with our Wanderlust community daily through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, emails and Wanderlust Journal blog posts. You've probably seen Olivia at one of the festivals riding from place to place on her bike, taking pictures or videos during yoga classes or concerts, or sitting alone in the corner rapidly typing on her phone to let friends at home share in the groove of our festivals!