How social media makes you a loser (and a winner)

Deakin University PR graduate Melanie Gilcrist reports on the slimming effects of social media. Follow Melanie’s blog: melaniegilcrist.wordpress.com

Photo of Melanie boxing with her housemate

Melanie Gilcrist (right) fighting her way to better health, and a better understanding of social media.

AS a PR student, I love writing – so it was great when I started my blog on communications issues about a year ago; however the tone is relatively professional and the target market is quite specific. So I wanted to try a second blog, something more light-hearted that would be more marketable to a wider audience and help develop my skills in multimedia and SEO.

The idea came to me as my housemate and I were watching our favourite show – The Biggest Loser (TBL). We were whining about the weight we’ve gained since high school; because when your budget only allows for two-minute noodles, and time you used to play sport in is now taken up by assignment writing, this is pretty inevitable.

Structure. Discipline. Determination. All the skills you need to be successful on social media...and to be healthy.

Structure. Discipline. Determination. All the skills you need to be successful on social media…and to be healthy.

Weight loss is such a hot topic at the moment – hence the success of TBL, but not everyone can quit their job to work out for 8 hours a day with celebrity personal trainers.

But what if we did something similar? What if we could show our weight loss journey – in a fun and engaging way, but make it something that people could relate to?

This chain of thought became the foundation of my blog: The Biggest Loser: Housemates Edition.

Myself: Blue Team

My housemate Hannah: Red Team

  • Eight weeks
  • We ‘weigh in’ every Tuesday
  • The contestant who loses less weight for the week is ‘below the yellow line’ and puts $5 in the jar.
  • If a contestant gains weight, they put $10 in the jar.
  • At the end of the competition, the total weight loss winner receives all the cash

We also added weekly challenges to make it a bit more interesting and to create more material.

I blogged about twice weekly, documenting our journey; using techniques to promote engagement and SEO. These included:

  • Links
  • Lots of pictures
  • YouTube videos
  • Appropriate tags (and an appropriate number of tags)

I wrote honestly and conversationally, with a bit of humour and not too much pride.

I shared the blog across Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter, strategically tagging others and achieving a number of re-tweets and shares – including from the official TBL Twitter!

The weekly tally.

The weekly tally.

After two short months, The Biggest Loser: Housemates Edition gained about 100 followers and was viewed over 3,000 times.

We were also noticed by our gym and offered free personal training as part of our challenge, and inspired eight other households (that we know of) to start their own TBL weight loss game.

I’m not just a “loser”, I’m a winner, and you can be too

Many students I speak to  tell me they want to blog, but wouldn’t be any good at it, and that they wouldn’t know what to write about. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are my tips for creating a blog:

  • Write about something you are passionate about, your passion will show in your writing and make your posts engaging.
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks. If it pays off, great! If it doesn’t, you are will learn from the experience instead of making the same mistake for a company employing you in the future.
  •  Use it to create new skills. While creating this new blog, I learned how to use iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, and WordPress. I also learnt a lot about SEO.

So have fun with it! You will actually write consistently and enjoy it if you are doing something you love. In the process, you will also improve your writing skills, and learn a lot about a platform that has become so important within the communications and public relations industry.

Just remember that anything you put up on the internet may potentially be seen by a future employer – and always use spell check!

I would highly recommend creating a blog to any passionate student, or anyone for that matter. Find something you love, and start typing.

The Biggest Loser: Housemates Edition: thebiggestloserhousemates.wordpress.com

My PR/ communications blog:
melaniegilcrist.wordpress.com

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