Anyone who has a fanpage for their cosplay work has probably been approached by another cosplayer to engage in a "share for share" or "like for like." If you have not been approached then consider yourself lucky because it is pretty rampant. The share for share explosion is a reflection of how cosplay has changed over the years. There is definitely a greater focus on visibility and getting your brand out there. It may even be a goal that people have when starting this hobby. A goal which was unheard of 5 years ago.
I hold no ill will against people who do this. I understand there is pressure to get some name recognition to get more opportunities, such as invitations to events and visibility to potential collaborators. That pressure can be overwhelming at times and it can be discouraging to see others get social media success as you remain stagnant. I also understand the joy of people accepting and encouraging you and your work publicly.
When I decline a share for share it is not something personal. It is not a reflection of the quality of their work or the content of their page. I do it because of a long list of reasons and because I don't think the process really helps anyone.
I share/like what I am passionate about
Everyday I am going through many sites and social media consuming a lot of cosplay content. I love discovering new cosplayers and learning tips and tricks. On the various platforms that I have - mostly Tumblr, Deviantart groups, and Reddit - I share content from other cosplayers on a regular basis. Why? Because I think people would appreciate their work if they came across it and I think they deserve some recognition for their efforts.
I also write cosplayers interviews on occasion for Geekpr0n, because I find they serve as a great pat on the back to encourage people to keep going.
All the content that I put on my page is a reflection of my preferences and passions. I do not want to post content because I am obligated to do so. Also, share for shares diminishes the value of authentically shared content.
My feature list is already long
If you take my first point into further consideration, I already have a very long list of people to feature and they have content that has already engaged me. The people that I have followed for years, that I recently followed, that gave me useful tips, or who instantly inspire me take priority. Not only is the list long but it is ever expanding.
I don't want my work shared out of a sense of obligation
Whenever I get approached for a "share for share" I always wonder: "Are you genuinely interested in my work or is it because of the like count? Do you really like my work or are you just sending out these messages to anyone and everyone?"
When someone posts a costume of mine I want it to be because they are passionate about it. In general, I believe that content will resonate better if the person posting it supports that content. Also, consistently sharing content that does not interest the poster may be annoying the followers.
Also from a branding point of view, it is not smart to be flooding your page - meant for promoting your brand - with everyone else's work.
More likes does not mean more fans
Not all likes are created equally on Facebook. If you buy advertising for example, the boost may come from bots trying to pass as real people. The numbers go up but the engagement does not follow, meaning posts have less impact and those posts may not get delivered to genuine fans.
A similar issue arises when people engage in "like for like." They are adding to their numbers but the level of engagement does not increase, meaning the page has stalled the potential of its future posts.
Watch this video by Veritasium that breaks down this issue very nicely.
Variety is Good
Facebook is not Forever
Considering the ever changing world of social media, the finishing line of the "race for likes" may be a dead end. Concentrating all this effort into promoting a social media page instead of building a fanbase genuinely interested in the content may backfire when it is time to switch to a new format. Will the people who gave a half-hearted "like" follow the cosplayer to a new social media page if/when Facebook becomes irrelevant - I think not.
Q: What do you think of the Share for Share phenomenon? What have been your experiences? -Be nice. No name calling
MeltingMirror's Cosplay Blog
Learn more about my experiences in the cosplay world, from conventions to photoshoots and everything in between.