Over 4 billion people around the world are on social media and almost half of them use TikTok. This is just one example of how rapid advancements in communication technology over the past few decades have increased access to information. With this access comes an increased need for information and that’s where content creators come in. We distill information into entertaining, engaging and digestible pieces and present them in all forms of media, for example, that infographic you saw on a current humanitarian crisis or that TikTok audio you can’t get out of your head. Anything can be made into social media content, from your daily routine to your university experience and even very specific interests and hobbies. Unfortunately, this can also mean that content creators can get exhausted trying to meet that high demand and we’re also highly visible online. As a university student and content creator on Instagram and TikTok, I have found that it is important for me to be conscious of my time, energy and approach to my role as a content creator to effectively balance it with my academics and life.
Keeping all this in mind, it is no wonder that one must be considerate in their decision about being a content creator. Content creating is a way for people to express themselves fully. It has brought me so much happiness and taught me so many new skills. It is a great role to have but care must be taken so you can fully reap its benefits. Here are a few considerations that I recommend college and university students consider before embarking on the content creation journey:
Time and consistency
Being a college student is hard. But being a college student who’s also a content creator is even harder. Whatever your goal with content creation is, be it fame or creativity, the common themes every creator must follow is consistency. Consistent content, consistent entertainment, consistent change. Social media moves lightning fast and it can just as quickly leave you behind, so consistency is key. Another thing that requires consistency to succeed? Your university degree. And that is where the problem lies, if you want to give content creation a try but you think you can’t do so without hurting your grades, know it could be a possibility. Find a rhythm that helps you prioritize your goals. In my own practice, I built a content calendar as well as a school calendar. Then, I do my best to match them up according to my availability and needs. Knowing my priorities has kept me grounded, even though it’s not a perfect science.
“What will your friends think?”
This increased availability of information means that just by having social media, you’re out in the open. Content creation further compounds this issue as the more content you make, the better you perform and the more visible you are to your audience. A lot of people I know have expressed that they would definitely take up content creation if they could move from their current home or could find a way to do so without alerting friends and family. They are afraid of being judged or making mistakes. But nothing can be mastered without failure. This fear of judgement is a powerful obstacle that I still struggle with too. I’ve found that what helps me is knowing that there are people who look up to me and are inspired by my content.
Mental and physical safety
When one creates content and becomes so visible, it is possible that this will take a toll on your mental and physical safety. Mentally, you might be faced with rude comments, low engagement or even suffer from burnout due to constant posting and being chronically online. Personally, taking social media breaks helps me deal with this, as well as reporting negative comments. Some social media platforms such as TikTok have comment settings that help you filter out certain words that may trigger you. This can help protect your privacy as well as your peace of mind.
Social media can also leave you exposed, especially if you share more personal information about your life and whereabouts. This information may be used maliciously, in extreme cases. It is important to exercise caution as you share personal information about yourself and set boundaries with your audience. This can involve little things such as reviewing your content for small personal details that you might miss like your license plate number, your house number and even the view outside your window. It is also possible to share videos about aspects of your routine after they are completed (for example, only share that you have gone out for lunch at a certain place after you are home), so that people do not know your whereabouts at a given time. Exercise caution in sharing regular aspects of your routine; if you must share then try to leave out more specific details like location and time. Depending on your content, it might be important to share certain details but try your best to keep these tips in mind!
Present and future employers
Another risk for posting to consider is how relevant employers may view your content. I often have to consider what content a future employer would consider inappropriate. This is a personal journey for everyone. I post according to my values and while I don’t want to water them down, I have to find a way to balance them with my goals. There are different types of content as well as different types of employers, what works for you might be different for someone else and vice versa. In fact, 7 out of 10 employers (70 percent) use social networking sites to research job candidates during the hiring process. You are interviewing potential employers as well so your social media can also be a way to determine if their values align with yours. Only you can make that decision and it is an important one to consider so you are prepared if an employer asks you about your content in a job interview!
The internet is forever
In the last few years, we’ve seen memes resurface from ten years ago and we’ve seen old songs become viral again. The internet has an elephant’s memory and once you start, it is hard to fully erase your presence from it. That’s why it is important to think about how your content ages.
Here are some questions I ask myself:
- Am I sharing views that you think are going to remain the same for me in the future? Am I sharing opinions that you believe in or are you following the ‘trend’? If this video resurfaced a few years later, how would that make me feel? What are my motivations for sharing this information? Are they positive or negative? What am I hoping to gain from sharing this information and what do I want others to gain?
These questions are complex and your answers may change. But it is important to consider them as well as possible repercussions and choose what you may be able to handle.
I hope this article has given you more insight on what it takes to be a content creator in college or university. It can be scary and stressful but ultimately, you’re gaining skills that will take you so far and you’re finding yourself in the process! I know I am.
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