Love them or hate them, Social Networks are pretty much entrenched in our lives right now. In a previous life I was heavily involved in them, not from the good side but from the mining side (sorry, my bad) and having been there I know how these networks work.
So how is this related to Retro TGirl wonderfulness? Well, I’m a cross-dresser. I know, I know, hell of a surprise that, but as such the Social Networks give me a wonderful and, when done correctly, safe way to promote myself and get that little kick of having other people seeing the other me. From the safety of behind a keyboard and normally bolstered by copious alcohol of course.
In deference to some of my beautiful friends who are genuinely trans, I’m not. I don’t want to be a woman – they have a terrible deal in society from all angles and I’m happy to bridge the genders in my own little way. I’m a product-girl, not that I love shampoo and the like but more from an outcome perspective. I dress to get pictures, very simply. Going out is fun (fun=terrifying) but it’s not why I dress. I dress for that heart-stopping moment when I open a picture on my MacBook and a pretty girl smiles back at me, that secret little thrill of knowing it’s actually me behind the makeup and the pretty frocks.
Pictured – pretty frock and makeup, always a winner
As cross-dressers (and again, I’m talking about us part-timers who get a warm feeling from being feminine as opposed to the people who wish to express themselves completely as women full time) the idea of social networks is a bloody miracle. We can be our alter-egos without having to physically talk to or be in the room with other people. At least that’s the way my mind works – the abstraction of a keyboard and a hundred miles of fibre cable means I can express myself more femininely than if I was self-consciously and shyly sat in a room fully enfemme.
There are gotchas. Lots of them, but I covered these a while back – things like creating a virtual barrier between your real self and your femm self. Your accounts should never share friends if you are a closet T-Girl, down that road lies madness. I’ve lost count of the number of heart stopping moments when I’ve been showing a friend some interesting post on my Facebook, normally about cats (top tip, if you want to blend into the Facebook data world without standing out take to liking pictures of cats once or twice a day, the engine blends you into the larger populous if you like something popular. That way I can put up revolution-inspiring messages and anarchic-chaos as I’m not on any watch list because 80%+ of my likes are cute cat pictures. Muwhaahahaha etc etc) and a picture of Sarah has popped up in the news feed as ‘someone you might know’. Bad Facebook.
Pictured – ‘people you might know’. Well duh, Facebook.
But away from the gotchas Social Networks are a wonderful way to bolster your self-confidence. I’ve heard horror stories of vicious and nasty ‘cat-fights’ on Social Networks between T-Girls who have rubbed each other up the wrong way, if you’ll pardon the pun, but, aside from a lot of odd friend requests and badly worded comments from people in, well, the more third-worldy countries (and, not a racist but wow there are a lot of young Muslims who seem to want to connect with white English crossdressers) I’ve never had abuse on any of my Social Network accounts.
And I have a lot.
Pictured – 53 million viewers can’t be wrong, although I’m probably at least 200k of them checking to see the pictures uploaded were OK.
So I thought I’d share some tips for the aspiring cross-dresser who wants that lovely feeling of getting up in the morning and seeing hundreds of likes, comments and DMs, minus the inevitable genital shots of course.
But before I start on the tips, the usual caveats sweeties. If you are going to dip your nail-varnished toe into the boiling hot stream that is Social Media do it carefully, especially if you are in the closet. Anything you upload to the internet is pretty much there for good, even if you delete it, Especially on Social Networks, but I’ll get on to that in a moment. Be safe, never link the accounts to your real persona (here’s a little story to put that in perspective – I registered transretrogurl.com as a URL via WordPress and it needed appropriate charging information. Literally five minutes after I’d paid for the DNS entry my phone started ringing, cold calls, from Indian software firms asking if I’d like to employ them to write my transretrogurl website. That was an eye-opener). If you have to put information on make it up – if you, for example, have your actual date of birth and your actual place of birth you’re half way towards some half-clever wag putting two and two together because your face looks vaguely like his or her male friend’s. Always keep two degrees of separation between any of your drab online presence and your femm one.
In the real world I have *two* friends, both transitioning, who are both friends of the femm and the drab and I have to be very, very careful not to comment or like on any of their posts from both accounts – this leads to ‘you might know Sarah Lewis’ popping up in emails and on my drab news feed, which is thrilling in all the wrong ways.
1: Tips for Visibility
We all like getting likes. In the case of closet cross-dressers it’s a thrill you can’t beat, when someone likes your latest photo or comments positively about it. It confidence bolstering in a way that not many other things are. But conversely if you put up your all-time favourite picture and two days later no-one has even liked it it’s a hammer-blow to the heart.
Pictured – like this shoot, although I think my love of the 20s and Flappers is a lot more than most perusers of my pictures… 😉
So you need to know how these Networks now work. They’ve changed massively over time, as the usage of the networks exploded and, sadly, the people running the networks realised the monetary gain of fiddling with the visibility of posts.
Let’s take Facebook for an example. When you post to Facebook the post visibility is initially determined but your security settings and the choice on the post itself – select ‘Friends’ and the post will be put onto a ‘possible’ queue for friends (more in a moment), put on ‘World’ and the post will be searchable to the outside world (but not put on people’s newsfeeds *unless* it matches criteria for the users. The matching criteria for a post to appear is complex, but a simplified way of looking at it is Facebook analyses the posts, looks for keywords and hashtags, compares the keywords, the friends you have and any hashtags to the profile of the target User (do they have a certain number of friends that you do? Do they click on posts with the same hashtags? Are they geographically or culturally close to you?). If Facebook thinks it is a good match it will be added to the ‘possible’ queue for the target User.
You’re not guaranteed to appear on the person’s newsfeed however. Before a post is added to your newsfeed it is compared to all other posts on the ‘possible’ queue using the same kind of criteria but also commercial criteria – if other posts on the ‘possible’ queue are from Users who have paid Facebook they are *much* more likely to end up on the newsfeed.
Pictured – also, blindly accepting every friend request helps. My drab FB has about 60 friends…..
This is where Social Media gets a bit corrupt (in my opinion, of course). When you search a Social Network you are looking for something – what you get back is what the Social Network thinks you should see *but* weighted and tempered by the financial contributions of Users. In a word it sucks.
But anyway, if you want your post to have a wider audience or, conversely, a more limited audience (if I get one more marriage invitation from someone in the subcontinent I swear I’m going to ‘Wargames’ a nuclear strike) you should tune your post – limit or widen the target audience via the security settings and put a load of contextual hashtags in there.
On the subject of hashtags……
2: #hashtag the #hell out of your #pictures and #posts
Hashtags are keywords that are used by the Social Networks to target interested parties towards your posts and using them is an art in and of itself.
Let’s take an example – I post a lot to Instagram (it’s my current target of choice just out of interest, it uses the Facebook model but with a lot less commercial bias). So, I have a cute picture of me modelling a glorious 1940s frock, just a selfie. I put a twee little description on it, normally aimed at myself (I do love referring to ‘her’ and ‘she’), and then pick a number of hashtags. Some are niche – for example, I’ll put #victoryrolls on the ones where Cindy has done her magic (and I do love Victory Rolls a lot) and there will be around 150 thousand other posts with that tag. It means that people interested in just that will have a chance to see that picture, but it’s not a huge amount of users. If, however, I put #crossdresser in the description there are around four million other posts with that tag. Which sounds great, but…..
Pictured – but before the but, a pretty 1940s frock….
When a user searches for a hashtag to see posts they get a combinatorial list of posts back – this is made up primarily of the most *popular* posts with that tag, i.e. in Instagram if someone has a million followers and uses that tag the number of clicks on the post will be huge, so it appears higher up in a search that other people do for the tag. The newer posts also appear higher on the list *but* not for long, and popularity tops newness.
It feels great to add a tag like ‘trans’ or ‘crossdresser’ to a post but it is very unlikely that people will see the post based on the tag – there are so many posts being put up with the tag that your post will not stay on the ‘most recent’ for long.
What I tend to do is keep the tags to a minimum but mix and match the contextual ones which have few posts with the massive ones – I’ll occasionally stick #sexy on there just for the hell of it.
3: It’s all about timing, baby, timing.
So, given a post on a Social Network, assuming you aren’t Trump(et) or some sexy singer that appeals to the puberty brigade, has a short shelf life in terms of appearing on other peoples feeds or searches. With this in mind if you want a good visibility for your post you need to pick your time carefully.
Most people are casual Social Media users. As such they aren’t staring at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc etc every minute of every day. In fact most people have a pattern – they check when they get up, they check during dinner and then they spend a little longer in the evenings surfing the sites.
Pictured – although for some reason pictures like this tend to get a lot of hits and comments just around bedtime. No idea why.
I’m the worst for this. I get an urge to post something somewhere and, regardless of the time, I’ll upload it. It may be last thing at night, in the UK, which means my usual audience is, unlike me, sleeping like babes. During the night more posts will be made by other people and of course, when morning comes around, my ‘new’ post is no loner fresh enough to appear on people’s feeds as they wake up. So, if you can control yourself, post at peak times – in the morning between 8:00 and 10:00, at lunch and in the evening, 18:00-21:00. That way the post has a much higher chance of being seen.
4: Variety is the spice of life
So, you’ve bought a new outfit and it’s divine, you’ve taken some pictures and they all look glorious. You want the world to see how pretty your new frock/blouse/posture-collar is so you upload ten pictures…..
The Social Networking sites have some very clever analytics around spam and in the case of you posting a large(ish) number of similar photos the posts will be knocked down automatically in terms of the ‘possible’ queues. You’re flooding the feeds with effectively the same, or very similar pictures so the likelihood they will appear drops dramatically.
The key here is trickle feed and make your posts varied. If I’ve done a session, like I just did, I will cycle the outfits I post – if you look at the featured image in this blog it’s my Instagram front page and you’ll see *no* repeated outfit in the last nine posts. People like variation, plus the Social Network sites will automatically throttle you.
5: Go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect 200 likes
The quickest way to screw up your Social Network presence is to annoy the Social Network. Or someone on it. This is the ‘Facebook Jail’ approach, where if your post is deemed to be offensive you are put in a timeout.
It’s a difficult path for us to walk as to some of the ‘normal’ populations (damn Muggles) what we do is morally offensive which, whilst being an opinion I definitely don’t share, the Politico-Correctees of the Social Media world are quick to respond to someone’s hurt feelings.
I’ve been ‘jailed’ once and it was vaguely amusing – I did a shoot with a realistic baby doll, designed for feed-training first-time mothers. Granted, I also did it with the wonderful breastplates and simulated breast-feeding, but I made a point in the post to point out it was NOT A REAL CHILD. However someone got offended, either because they couldn’t read or just because my alter-ego online was prettier than them, and off to jail I went.
Pictured – not the picture, just the same boobs
Just be careful. It’s tedious but read the regulations of the Social Media site very carefully.
6: And sometimes you just can’t win….
Twitter. Never really liked it, but out of all the Networks I play with that one is the one I can get no purchase on. Which is a good word to describe it actually, as when I kicked off the account in 2016 I had the ‘would you like to pay to reach a wider audience’ prompt come up on the third or so Tweet. I said no. Then after ten Tweets it prompted me again. Again, no, I’m not paying for a Social Network to widen the reach of an account. That’s kinda cheating.
On the third time of asking the wizard prompted me whether or not to keep asking, at which point I said no, I would never pay to reach a wider audience.
And suddenly my Tweets weren’t reaching *anyone*.
Pictured – I lied. 31 followers. Yay.
Out of all the Networks Twitter seems the most corrupted and biased in terms of ‘buying’ visibility. As such I tend to post pictures occasionally, but even after 120 Tweets I have, ready for it, twenty followers. Compared to 6k+ on Instagram after four or so months. Yeah, that seems a fair and unbiased system….cough, cough.
7. Spreading yourself a bit……
So, you’ve bought a gorgeous frock from an online retail firm that you like a lot and think you look pretty damn sweet in it. In the old days it was unthinkable to approach a retail firm with pictures, no matter how wonderful, unless that firm was specifically catering to women like myself. Now it’s a different world, and what’s lovely about it is you can use the Social Networks to a: tell them just how much you love the clothes/whatever you purchased from them and b: even get involved as a customer with their Social Media presence.
There are some of the vendors who still have an anti-trans stance but they are thankfully few and far between. On the whole the Social Network presence of most vendors is a wonderfully open place.
I bought a lovely Diner Waitress style swing dress from Unique Vintage in the states, and sent them a message on Facebook thanking them for it – it came really quickly and was a *perfect* fit. I put up a couple of pictures on Facebook and tagged them appropriately and to my delight they appeared on the Unique Vintage site itself. It was immensely gratifying and, thrilling to see myself in amongst loads of other happy customers, and even a link to the dress itself.
Pictured – I’m absurdly touched by that….
Now that’s the kind of confidence booster you can get from Social Networks.
So stay beautiful and have fun out there, but remember if you have a low level of likes on your pictures on not a lot of views, it’s not down to your pictures. Play the system correctly and you’ll get that lovely little thrill of exposure without the exposure.
Pictured – I’m aiming for a cover on ‘Housewife Weekly’, although for that I may have to build a time machine and go back forty years or so before the concepts of Social Networks didn’t exist….