Elements in Social Media

I recently read an article on using social media for advertising in which the writer chose to focus on the big four social media platforms: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.  Now, anytime somebody says there are four kinds of X, I put on my hermetic goggles and take a look.  Sometimes the elemental or directional correspondences are there, sometimes not. Forcing data into a set of unfit correspondences works as well as putting my favorite opera singer in skinny jeans.  She can’t sing right in that getup! In the case of social media platforms, three out of four can rock the elemental look. The fourth kinda fits, as long as it doesn’t have to bend over to pick something up.    (Is this an indication that it will eventually be displaced by a more fitting platform? We can only hope)

Twitter as Air

Come on. The logo is a bird. I will always start with the slow pitch. Twitter is all about the exchange of ideas, and the quicker the better.  Developing news stories, play-by-play sports games, the productivity hacks your coworker shares.  A tweet’s life is measured in minutes, not years. If you pre-write your tweets to autopost later, it is suggested that you schedule them to go live during your audience’s morning and evening commutes.  Exchanging ideas while traveling to a place of commerce? Hello, Mercury!

Instagram as Water

This place can be fascinating in the literal, liminal, dangerous sense. You’re set adrift on a sea of heavily filtered images. The Instagram logo itself is dominated by the black camera lens, a perfect scrying surface. People don’t come here to discuss current ideas or trade witty banter. Here there be likes and loves and shares. All the feels! Users curate images to tug at a viewer’s heartstrings: sleeping babies, perfect morning coffees, afghans and books, sunsets and margaritas. Beware though, like Narcissus, many young men and women have peered into Instagram and remain there, staring at their own reflections. #selfie 

Facebook as Fire

This is the one who’s stuffed into his little brother’s pants.  It’s not a perfect fit. Like Instagram, Facebook can be emotional.  Like Twitter, it’s a place for discussion and ideas. But it’s slower than Twitter, and more verbal than Instagram. Twitter’s airiness and Instagram’s dreaminess are their strengths, but the combustion I’ve seen on Facebook is a definite weakness.  While Twitter can be volatile, Facebook is downright inflammatory. This is the where exes snipe at each other, family feuds become public, and you witness a former classmate arguing peak oil with a teacher he hasn’t seen in decades. Facebook’s big box approach, combining photos, groups, conversations, and short updates, makes it the Wal-Mart of social media.  And yet, Facebook’s flaws may also be the source of its longevity. Let’s face it: people like to be angry, indignant, and most of all, RIGHT. Facebook is the place to go when you want to share condescending political memes or argue with the moron who works across the hall. I’d like to see this platform lose its popularity to something more motivational, like a git-er-done cross between TED Talks and Kickstarter. I prefer to light a fire under myself, not watch it scorch the fields of my kingdom.

Pinterest as Earth

Pinterest is the digital incarnation of a physical object: the bulletin board. The logo is a stylized bulletin board pin. The content curated here revolves around the material world: recipes, craft projects, DIY hacks, interior design, fashion, art, travel. The ostensible purpose of Pinterest is to allow people to grasp their floating plans and ideas from the ether and anchor them in one place in order to manifest them into physical reality. Unfortunately, many users don’t move from pinning to doing. If Narcissus opened the first Instagram account, the lotus-eaters are on Pinterest, anesthetizing themselves against the credit card bill by consuming images of perfectly remodeled bathrooms. Regardless, Pinterest is an excellent tool when used correctly, which means not going to the website to surf mindlessly. Instead, when you’re roaming through the internet, looking for a way to fix your leaky windows, and among all the cat videos you actually find a tutorial, move the mouse to the Pin button on your toolbar and spear that wildebeest! At the hardware store two weeks later, you can pull up the list of materials needed and get to work.

Rock Smashes Scissors

How would you apply these correspondences to your social media strategy? You might petition Mercury on Wednesday for more Twitter followers, or make a short list of possible hashtags and then use bird auguries to choose which ones to use. Auguries aren’t always accurate so I’d keep a journal and try all the hashtags from my list over the course of a month, keeping track of which ones performed the best and whether that aligned with the divination results.  

If you’re wasting time on Facebook, work with water to put out that fire. Have lots of ideas but don’t bring them to completion? Nail down those thought balloons. Make a secret Pinterest board (that is, one not visible to your followers) and title it with the name of your top goal/idea that you want to work on. Make a list of actions you must complete in order to reach your goal, and make a pin for each one.  Enchant the board, possibly with a Sun/Mars or Jupiter working. I wouldn’t rely on spells or workings in the digital realm as a primary strategy though. My ultimate goals all exist in the intersection of the physical and spiritual planes, so that’s where I spend most of my time working. But if you need to control or direct your social media activity, look to the elements and introduce balance.

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