Thursday, April 24, 2014
Willa is a freelance multimedia producer who creates documentary-style videos for businesses, brands, and institutions. Past Maine-based clients have included Kepware Technologies, Chewonki, Creative Portland and the Portland Regional Chamber, Southern Maine Agency on Aging, and Bates College. She is a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies' radio program—which brought her to Portland, Maine in the first place—and currently lives in Manhattan (where Rob has visited her), making trips back to Maine whenever she can.
Instagram love, Facebook 'meh,' and love-hate-blessing-and-a-curse
As with most of my interviews, what you'll read here is a greatly condensed version of our conversation.
What was your first experience with social media?
"I remember coming home from college after freshman year and a friend from high school who went to Harvard told me about this thing called ‘The Facebook’. My initial response was, 'That’s so weird!' I resisted for several years while most of my small liberal arts college campus joined. This was back when Facebook was limited to those with college emails. When I found myself living with my parents for a semester my junior year, recuperating from an injury, I succumbed. I felt grateful for the virtual social network that kept me connected to my friends, romantic intrigues, and college campus drama in a way that I’d never experienced before. It was all so new, which made it both compelling and addictive. Needless to say, my parents got their share of entertainment from Facebook that semester as well."
"In 2008 I began my foray in media via public radio. One day, I was visiting the PRI show ‘The World’, and I sat in on a social media teach-in. It was focused on a new up-and-coming thing called Twitter. I joined, like everyone else that day, but wasn’t really sure what to make of it. Five years in, I understand Twitter a little better now, but I’m still a sporadic and random tweeter. While I’m not planning to deactivate my account at any point soon—I see it as just another way to get my work out there and connect-the-dots—I wouldn’t feel a personal void without it."
What do you like about social media?
"I appreciate social media’s ability to keep me connected to many of the people I’ve encountered personally and professionally in the most basic of ways. Social media acts as a living address book that's updated as zip codes, cell phone numbers, job titles, and other important details change. I’m thinking about Facebook and LinkedIn in particular here. In our mobile, networking-centric world, this is really helpful."
"Is this where I can expand on my love of Instagram? ‘Love’ was never a word I used in relation to social media, until Instagram came along. More accurately, until I became actively engaged with Instagram—about a year into starting an account—and began to really understand it. I’m a visual person, so there’s something very powerful to me about seeing glimpses of other peoples worlds—whether through the eyes of an inspired photographer, someone who shares my taste in the kitchen, or a snapshot from my brother’s day. I enjoy consuming Instagram. It gives me ideas, inspiration, and makes me smile and feel connected a larger world; to people living, seeing, creating, and sharing. Through Instagram I’ve developed friendships, both virtual and real-life, connected with collaborators, and developed new confidence in my way of seeing the world through a network of encouraging Instagrammers. I get joy out of sharing curated bits and pieces of my day-to-day, and seeing the unfolding of other Instagrammers’ visual worlds."
"Strictly from a business standpoint, social media—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn—is a powerful tool because you never know who will stumble across a link you post and how the connection will unfold. I always figure that if I can get one more person to my website—a prospective client or collaborator—via tweeting a link or my Instagram profile or Facebook page, that can only be a positive thing."
What do you dislike about social media?
"I dislike the feeling that I get sometimes when I’m experiencing a beautiful place or special occasion. I'll think, 'I should Instagram this!' That impulse can ruin the in-the-momentness sometimes. Conversely, I really appreciate and value the photographic field notes I have from my life during the two or so years that I’ve been using Instagram. The collage of photos transports me back to the scenes, colors, and tastes of the different periods they represent. I’m glad I have those places and moments documented."
"Like anyone else, sometimes a quick glance at my Facebook news feed can leave me feeling 'meh.' I’m not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg, but in any case, I make a point of avoiding it as much as I can. I use Facebook mostly for messages, managing my business page, and posting the occasional photo or bit of news."
"I really don’t like how attached we are to our social media as a culture. At the same time, I’m grateful for the relationships it has afforded me that would have otherwise not come into my life."
What would it be like for you to disconnect from social media for six months?
"If I were in a beautiful natural place, knew my business wasn’t going to take a hit due to my disconnectivity, and surrounded by people doing the same, I’d take out my old film camera, walk around barefooted, and feel fine, happy, and free. Lacking nothing. I know I’d feel a different feeling of peace without the buzzes and alerts punctuating my day and pulling away my attention."
If you could only use three words to describe social media, what would they be?
"Tool. Connector. Love-Hate-Blessing-and-a-Curse."
Is there a person or brand that you think uses social media effectively?
"I admire the way my friend Amie Valpone, Editor-in-Chief of the Healthy Apple (who I met on Instagram and is my real-life neighbor in Manhattan!) uses social media very effectively to build and promote her brand. I believe her approach is so effective because she tweets/Instagrams/Facebooks very consistently. She invites her large fan base to participate and weigh in on questions. Most important, she presents an authentic voice through sharing pieces of her own story."
I want to thank Willa for taking the time to talk with me about her opinions on, and experience with, social media.
You can find Willa on Instagram at: @willakammerer
You can find Willa on Vimeo at: user4431199
You can find Willa on Facebook at: willakammerermultimedia
You can find Willa on Twitter at: @willakammerer
You can find Willa on LinkedIn at: willakammerer
PHOTO CREDIT: Melissa Mullen Photography
Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.
Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).
Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg
His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).