Illustration by Diya Gupta
The global spread of social media has opened up increased access to the platforms on which people can express opinions, share ideas and promote the content they create. Recently emerged terms like “social media influencer” and “blogger” are often used to describe those who discuss a specific topic or various topics on their own online platforms, or deliver curated content to large audiences on their public social media accounts. While most people consider blogging a hobby, some make it a main source of their income by engaging in paid promotions and partnering with advertisers.
As a part of a young generation of thinkers, writers and artistic creators brought together from all around the world, NYU Abu Dhabi students are people whose stories would be interesting to larger audiences beyond their families.
After spending the entire winter break of her freshman year answering the same questions about her college life, Aleksandra Medina, Class of 2021, realized that she needed to start a personal blog to document her experiences and keep friends and family up to date. Rather than focusing on a specific theme, Aleksandra considers her blog to be a public diary where she shares what makes her happy, photos from her travels and her late night thoughts.
“It’s certainly more personal than Instagram or my Facebook feed. And, you know, only the people who truly care would click on the blog to read an update of how I’m doing. So, it’s the perfect fit. I get to share my stories while not imposing on others’ feeds,” she said.
NYUAD has definitely influenced the content Medina posts by giving her opportunities to visit different places around the world. Similarly, Liza Tait-Bailey, Class of 2017, created a blog when she moved to Paris for a study abroad semester during her sophomore year. Having this platform allowed her to share photos, videos and stories from her travels.
Later, the theme of Tait-Bailey’s blog shifted from traveling to emotional health and lifestyle. She started writing about the events in her life and how she was feeling about them. As a big factor impacting her mental wellbeing and occupying most of her time, academics at NYUAD were certainly a feature in Tait-Bailey’s blog. For her, having a blog was also a way to be more open about the issues that she did not discuss on her social media accounts.
“On Instagram, I wasn’t posting moments of me being at library ‘til 3 am… Everything on the internet is a curation of our lives.... If you would just look at my photos [on Instagram], you would go like, Wow, look at your life! But actually, if you would read into the caption it is me being like, this week sucks or, I am really struggling with what it means to leave NYUAD,” she said.
Academics at NYUAD can also indirectly influence how students utilize their social media accounts. Victoria Blinova, Class of 2017, minored in the Arabic language during her undergraduate program and now the videos in which she speaks Arabic attract a lot of followers on her Instagram page.
She started posting in the summer of 2016, when a video of her singing a Fairouz song received an immense amount of likes and views as well as encouragement from friends to create similar ones. Since then, she has been working on growing her audience of 26.1 thousand followers by creating more content that combines the Arabic language, culture and humor.
Maintaining such a large audience takes a lot of time and effort, which is why many social media influencers turn their online platforms into careers. To keep followers engaged, they have to constantly post creative content on their feeds. Blinova prefers quality over quantity; for her, posting once a day is enough.
“I don’t think it’s about posting more. It’s about posting regularly. Quality and consistent content will attract a wider audience,” she shared.
Not being able to fully commit to making regular updates on her blog, Tait-Bailey started thinking about shutting her blog down. The frequency of posts on her blog changed from 3 posts a week during her junior year to 12 posts a year during her senior year. She began feeling like she ran out of things that would be worth sharing with her readers. Eventually, when her yearly subscription to the website expired, Tait-Bailey decided to move on from the chapter of her life in which she shared everything online.
Although the time of her blog has passed, Tait-Bailey is very grateful for the community and skills it gave her.
“I really developed in having to explore my feelings … I improved my photography because I was so interested in having good photos on my blog. I improved my website building … Most of the video skills I use in my job I learned from making my own videos of my trips,” she added.
Despite the fact that all of the three girls did or do commit quite some time to their blogs or social media platforms, none of them identified themselves as bloggers or social media influencers. They considered blogging a hobby, an enjoyable way to document their lives and improve their skills.
They agreed that to assign the title of blogger or social media influencer would change the way they manage their online platforms.
“[Turning a blog into a career] definitely should change your approach to how you write your blog. And this decision would also change the way you create content on social media: it becomes more strategic, more curated. And at the same time, unfortunately, [it becomes] less like the real you,” Medina said.
Julia Tymoshenko is Social Media Editor. Email her at [email protected]