How to Share a Friend’s Work, and One Important Thing NOT to do.

Typewriter on a table.

Today I want to share with you some thoughts about how to support your creative-type friends. There are a myriad of ways creatives express themselves, but today I’ll talk about some things I have experience with, in descending order of expertise. (Yes, you may be right in thinking I’ve set the bar low.)

There is a general rule of thumb, and it’s this-> Share the ever-living crap out of that stuff, but DON’T share your relationship to the creator of the … whatever it is you’re sharing. I could be wrong about this, but I don’t think I am, and my reasoning comes from an experience I once had.

An old college buddy of mine shared that his father had written a book. He posted a nice message about how people had always told his father he was a good writer, and that he should write a book someday.

So he did.

But I didn’t buy the book, because I didn’t want to buy a book simply because his father wrote it. I didn’t know what was in it or why it was good, so I moved on. It’s likely that I missed out on a good book.

You’re sharing the content of creators you care about, not the creator itself, necessarily.

So, in general:

Share the work, but not your relationship to its creator.

There is a caveat to this rule. If you’re in your wisdom-sharing years (formerly known as “senior years”), and especially a grandparent, you should share every piece of work your offspring of any age creates and talk all about how proud you are. Shout your pride to the world! The reason this is a caveat is because all your friends are doing the same thing, and it’s a way of updating the world about your family and what they’re doing. In a way, even though what you’re sharing will be new to your wisdom-years friends, they’re engaging in an act of nostalgia.

My mom is great about this. She shares almost everything I write., and I’m glad and grateful she does. She’s my mom. AND, I expect people her age read some of my stuff because they have a lot of respect for her and want to know what her son has to offer the world. She should never stop sharing my stuff. It’s practically her job, now that she’s in her wisdom-years.

There are some specific ways to offer support, other than just posting links to your Facebook or social media feed of choice. So let’s get into the weeds.

First, a definition, for those who aren’t up on some modern-day lingo.

Content: Any online thing that a creator produces. Examples of content:

  • Writers and Bloggers: Online articles, blog entries. You’re reading one now.
  • Podcasters: Any podcast episode and all materials that go with it. The hard working bloggers provide an accompanying blog post. Well…I do anyway.
  • YouTubers: Any video they post to YouTube.

There are myriads of ways content creators can do so online these days. Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, TikTok, etc… There are far more avenues to create than I can possibly cover, so I’ll stick to the few with which I have some experience.

Whether we like it or not, the internet is watching what we do, and how we respond to content.

If you engage in any sort of social media, you already know this. They keep track of what you look at, watch, and read, and then suggest more of the same. It’s discomforting, but it’s the way it is.

Similarly, they keep track of the number of people who are looking at a given piece of content, and the more people are interacting with it, the more they’ll recommend it to others – i.e. strangers – for viewing or reading.

With this understanding, the best way for you to support your friend or family member who is creating content is to interact with whatever it is you want to support. There are a few different ways to do that depending on the content, with some similarities with all.

Writers and Bloggers

Share the posts and articles, but don’t just paste and run. Share what part of the article you found meaningful. Copy and paste a quote from it, if you’re so inclined. Show your friends that the article or blog post is worth reading.

If the article isn’t worth reading…don’t post it. There’s a lot of crap writing out there. Don’t let your loved one add to it. Make us work for your attention.

As for the blog itself, Google notes the number of people subscribed to a blogger. So, if you don’t mind an occasional email when the blog is updated, subscriptions help. There is likely an opportunity for you to show you appreciate the blog entry by clicking (or tapping) some sort of “like” button. On this blog it’s in the form of a heart. If you’ve subscribed to the blog you can also comment on the entry, perhaps responding to a question the author has posed, or voice a different way of looking at the subject matter.

Sometimes writers publish their content to online publishing platforms. I’ve used Medium in the past. On these platforms there are ways to show your appreciation for the article. Down towards the bottom there are clapping hands and a dialogue bubble. Readers can show their appreciation for the piece by clicking on the clapping hands, or clicking on the dialogue bubble to submit a comment. Lastly, readers can also highlight their favorite part of the article. Regular users of Medium can follow their favorite authors.

Each one of these actions shows the Medium algorithm that you thought enough of the article to interact with it. Even if you leave a negative comment, Medium still sees that as interaction, and that’s a positive. Medium will recommend it to others to read based on the level of interaction.

Medium is a pay site ($50 a year) with three free articles a month for non-members, so I don’t use it much as I don’t want to limit my audience.

Podcasts

If you’ve ever listened to a podcast, you’ll likely remember the host suggesting that if you like the episode to go to whatever platform you listened to the podcast on and leave a good rating and review. They also ask you to share the episode with someone you think will also like it. All of these things are important to the podcast algorithms.

The number of people who listen to a podcast is self-explanatory. Higher listening numbers is a good sign that people like the podcast. The algorithm also keeps track of the amount of time people spend listening. That is, whether a listener listens to the entire podcast, or if they shut if off part way through.

When it comes to podcasts, it is important that the ratings and reviews are positive. Negative ratings will negatively impact the likelihood that a podcast is recommended for others to listen to. This is why podcasters are careful to ask for good reviews. They may even sheepishly suggest you “forget” to leave a review if you didn’t like it.

Remember that rule about not divulging your relationship to the content creator? It’s even more important when you’re leaving a review for a podcast. In the case of podcast reviews, you’re not just sharing your praise with your friends and family on your personal Facebook feed. In fact, unless you direct someone right to your review, chances are none of your friends will see it. Instead, the review is posted for the entire world to see as they’re searching for Podcasts to listen to. So, when somebody comes across a podcast review that says something like, “I love this podcast. I’m so proud of the host, my son. I remember when lil’ Jimmy was in diapers and now he’s so eloquent! You should listen…” Well you get the idea. Your review is viewed with a grain of salt. The host is your friend or family member. Of course you’re positive about it!

Fortunately, my mother didn’t say that. She was very…wait, my mother hasn’t reviewed my podcast yet. What gives, mom?

My young, teen-age son rated an old podcast of mine once. It went something like, “4/5 stars. The sound editing needs some work, but he’ll get better.”

Thanks, kid.

Hey, at least he didn’t divulge his relationship to me.

YouTube

I recently decided to dip my toes into the world of creating content for YouTube. So I made a video a lot like the ones I spend way too much time watching. In doing so, I learned some things about how the YouTube algorithm works. This information, which was somewhat new to me, was the impetus for this particular blog entry. Hey, I’m not great with tech stuff, and I thought there might be others like me that would be interested in this stuff. It’ll be helpful if you want to support a YouTube content creator (AKA “YouTuber”) in your life.

First, a bit of a tangent…

Let me sum up how I understand YouTube. It’s for people who want to be on TV to share their information, opinion, or talent who otherwise wouldn’t be able to do so because some bigwig at a television station isn’t interested in what you have to offer. In some ways, it’s a big middle finger to those bigwigs. Quite a few talented people were discovered on YouTube. Justin Bieber, for instance. I’ve written about YouTube before, so I won’t do it again. I happen to think it can be a great move forward for humanity. Power to the people. It’s not perfect. But I like it.

Tangent over.

The key to supporting a YouTuber is viewer interaction with the videos. It is up to the creator to create in a such a way that elicits views and interactions. But you, as a friend or loved one of the creator, can act in ways that will assist in growing their YouTube channel. This is primarily done in the following ways:

  1. Video views. It might seem obvious, but the more views a video has, the better it will rank on YouTube. But just as important is how long each viewer watches the video. So…
  2. Watch the entire video. YouTube keeps a close eye on how long viewers actually stay with a video. The longer a person watches, the better YouTube assumes the video is, the more likely they are to recommend it to others to watch. They don’t care what the video is, only that people watch it. This way YouTube can sell ads and make money. More viewing time, more ads, more money for YouTube. So watch the entire video to keep YouTube happy. If your loved one is making videos you’re not interested in, then pull up the video, press play, and set it aside until it’s over. Take a shower or something. Fill the time. That run time is critical to your friend or family member trying to gain an audience on YouTube.
  3. Leave a comment in the comment section. YouTube comment sections are incredibly active compared to other mediums on the internet. Creators and viewers can interact with each other. Just like with blog posts, even negative comments are a positive. Again, it is best not to divulge your relationship to the creator, for similar reasons to podcast reviews. Viewers aren’t there to see who the YouTuber is related to, they’re there to see the video. Comments of any kind help drive other comments, which shows YouTube people like to interact with the creator.
  4. Hit the “like” button. It’s another interaction YouTube likes to see. It costs you nothing, and only helps the creator.
  5. Subscribe to the YouTube channel. Don’t worry about getting emails every time your friend uploads a new video. That’s not how it works. YouTube will keep track of who you’ve subscribed to and update your YouTube account when new content is added. This is available to you when you visit and sign into YouTube. (NOTE: For items 3, 4, and 5 here, you’ll need to create a YouTube user account. It’s simple, and YouTube won’t SPAM you. I can’t remember the last email I got from YouTube, if ever.If you’d like to receive notifications for your subscriptions whenever new content is added, you can do this by clicking or tapping the little bell right next to the “subscribe” button. I’m subscribed to 22 different YouTube channels, but the only one I’ve asked for notifications is this guy.

In summary, I guess I’d say the key to supporting your friend or relative who’s creating something is interaction with their work, and this is more than just posting it to your social media feed. Interaction with the work is the key to convincing various algorithms that it should share the work with other people.

As I’ve said before, I’m no expert at anything internet related. I’ve probably missed some things here. If so, let me know in the comments below.

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