For some EKU students, social media isn’t just a pastime – it’s a platform for their ideas.
Wylie Caudill is a junior studying broadcast electronic media. His works are familiar to many around campus. His chalk drawings, often of Pokémon and fictional characters, have sprouted all over campus in the past year and capture a vibrancy unique to Caudill’s own style. His artwork, however, serves as more than just decoration.
With each of his drawings, Caudill captures the scene and uploads photos to his Instagram account, which has roughly 3,482 followers. His growing popularity has led to multiple job offers and recognition from sources beyond EKU.
“It all started with chalk art my freshman year,” Caudill said. “I just had some leftover chalk one day, so I decided to use it and got so much attention from it that I just kept going.”
The attention he soon garnered online swelled his Instagram following well beyond the 800 or so people he had prior to his freshman year.
While Caudill considers himself no Instagram icon, he won’t deny everything his online presence has done for him. His follower count allows for hundreds of responses and shares as opposed to the occasional comments he gets from passerbys who happen to catch him working. More importantly, it allows for his art to live on long after it’s swept off the limestone buildings and sidewalks of EKU’s campus.
“My art fades. It’s just like how people take videos of crazy stunts or hiking photos,” he said. “You want to capture something that not everyone else can always see in person.”
Because of this, he advises people who want to establish an online presence to push something new and original—something that can’t always be seen offline.
The artist has also created new sources of income with his newfound celebrity.
Recently, Caudill has been asked to do private pieces for homes and businesses, allowing him to eventually profit from his postings. Even Caudill’s website, which showcases his drawings, paintings, photography skills, and other projects, has proven far less useful than his Instagram account.
“I wouldn’t get job offers without my Instagram,” he said. “No one’s checking my website every day, but people are checking their Instagram feed very day. It’s that following that gets me recognized.”
Regardless of the recognition, Caudill is casual about his presence on social media.
“I don’t think I’m making the world a better place by posting pictures on Instagram. I only share what I think is interesting about my own life. And my caption game is not very strong,” he added, laughing.
For marketing major Dante Beausejour (a.k.a. Yung Racks), however, managing a social media account is a much more strategic game.
As a hip-hop artist and music promoter, Beausejour said social media helps him reach a bigger crowd. His Twitter account, which weighs in at around 73,000 followers, allows him to monitor what the crowds like from a bigger perspective.
“When I need to do a survey, it’s easy and fast because I don’t have to wait,” Beausejour said. “If I only had a few hundred followers, I’d have to wait for at least 25 to respond. With having 72.9K I can get a few hundred people to answer and have a good idea of everyone’s feedback.”
Beausejour says he keeps his feed all business.
“I try to get them to focus on the music and entertainment side and not get stuck in my personal life. That’s what you see more of on my Instagram and Snapchat,” he said.
For Beausejour, having an established presence on Twitter allows him to market his music, get feedback, and build a community with other like-minded people.
Beausejour holds himself to three rules: stay consistent, stay broad, and post similar content each time. Much of his success, he says, has come from making posts that people can relate to and offering a consistent, similar product each time he posts.
Beausejour acknowledges that many of his current followers come from occasionally shifting attention to others’ accounts. The promoter says that by retweeting quotes, music, and following other people, he’s able to draw more attention to his own account.
“Find people who share the same interests as you,” he said. “Like with Lil Boosie—if I see someone re-tweeting a tweet about him coming to Louisville, I’ll follow the person who made that original tweet. Go follow people with similar interests who catch your eye. Others will do the same with you.”
For Beausejour, taking advantage of the network can yield endless possibilities.
“Say someone retweets my tweet—it will be on someone else’s timeline. They’ll quote it, but even if I don’t follow them, I’ll still see it and I’ll go like it. Then they’ll come to my page and follow me.”
Beausejour is also a disbeliever in the “followers-to-following” ratio – the belief that having a much higher number of followers than accounts followed makes an account look more reputable.
“Just because it looks better to some doesn’t mean it is better,” he said. To him, getting to interact with followers and eventually gain them through following back is part of what makes his account so successful.
In the saturated world of social media where just about anything can be promoted, it can be challenging to compete for attention.
The internet is very much its own melting pot. With such a diverse amount of different internet subcultures, the biggest challenge for some is finding a strategy that will reach a wide enough audience, or even enough people to meet its niche agenda.
Whether you’re promoting your band on Twitter or running a random meme page on Facebook, most people who’ve had success on social media tend to agree on one thing: No strategy can make it far without an original, consistent product.