I use my own social media accounts to share things from my life much like I do here. Also much like my blog I tend to focus on content over follower count. By that I mean I choose to post things that I genuinely like without a goal of gaining more followers. While I appreciate new followers and readers I acknowledge that if I’m too focused on “ratings” content can start to suffer. Admittedly it’s tough to resist sometimes. For example, having done The Gay Gasp now for over 4 years I’m pretty aware of what will get a lot of hits and what won’t. While you might hope that we are a more sophisticated community, the articles with the most hits are always the ones with either a bear or sex reference in the title. It’s as simple as that. Oh and you like lists. People are much more prone to read anything if it’s in a list thanks to the Buzzfeedification of America. So while my articles about society and current events do get some love the articles about bear pool parties and masturbation get four times the viewers. It’s just a simple fact of doing business as a blogger.
Apart from my full time job and writing this blog I am also a member of the charity group BearDance which aims to put on fun dance parties for bears that benefit local Dallas LGBT organizations. When I joined BearDance back in 2013 their only social media presence was on Facebook. Realizing the need, I quickly began running their social media accounts as a way of building the brand’s identity. A higher visibility equals more supporters and hopefully more donations and money for those that need it. I’m happy to say we now have an Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter account all to go along with our Facebook page. (@BDBearDance across all platforms)
When I started the accounts about a year ago I was still naive enough to hope that I could gain followers the old fashioned way through interesting and thoughtful content. I posted behind the scenes pictures of our meetings and fun photos of our events. While there was some minor success it was a slow growth. I realized that if I wanted to raise the profile of our charity I would need get more followers. With that in mind I started an active campaign last fall to get people involved. While BearDance is based in Dallas I wanted to promote that idea that the BearDance family is large and spreads all over the map. I gathered up and posted several pictures of bears from all over the country wearing BearDance shirts. I even asked viewers to submit their own pictures so I could share them. I really thought this was a good idea. It was barely a blip on anyone’s radar and there was no visible increase in followers. I tried posting about the NFL play-offs and the Golden Globes thinking current event might get some notice. Again, no one cared. Then it all changes two weeks ago.
First I posted this picture on the Sunday that had the Golden Globes and the Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay in the NFL playoffs. It got 4 likes. 4. That’s pathetic.
A day later I posted this picture of fellow BearDance team members and my good friends Jared and Ami. It got 125 likes. If you’re a math geek you know that’s an increase of over 3000% from the previous picture.
Knowing my job is to gain visibility and support for our non-profit I couldn’t argue with the numbers. While there could be several explanations for why the picture was so well received I suspected it all had to do with a hairy belly. It was clear I had hit on something and that something was skin. It’s a tale as old as time, a song as old as rime. I realized I had to give in and stop trying to swim up stream. Our supporters had made their choice clear and they wanted shirtless bears.
With a focus on Tummy Tuesday, I’ve started to post more pictures of sexy shirtless bears and it’s worked better than I could have imagined. I started the BearDance Instagram account last year on New Years Ever and a year later on January 1, 2015 we had roughly 250 followers. After two weeks of sexiness our follow count has doubled to over 500 and is still growing. The easy shirtless way did in 2 weeks what it took me a year to do fully clothed. On one hand I’m excited that people are finally finding us and learning that we throw the biggest dance party for bears in the entire country. More recognition will bring more support and donations to help gay people in need which is the point of all of this. On the other hand I am disappointed. I absolutely hate that I had to give in to a culture that rewards people for how they look and not for the who they are as a person. Clearly I like bears and bellies as much as the next guy but I think we all tend to forget how meaningless it is in the grand scheme of things. Just because a guy is hot doesn’t have any effect on whether or not he’s a shitty person. Unfortunately it’s a battle that’s too big and one that’s not worth fighting. My personal views might not always be what’s best for BearDance so compromise is king. Instead I’ve chosen to affect change by working within the system instead of against it. So while I’ll continue to post pictures of hot men I’m going to try and include guys who you may not always see on generic bear accounts. While the standard white stocky semi hairy bear is still very hot I’m going to try to broaden that concept to include guys of different ethnicities and body types. There isn’t one definition of attractive and I want to reflect that at BearDance. For example, I’ve meet a ton of guys who are strongly attracted to Latin and Mexican bears yet their visibility tends to be low. It’s a small change but one that will still help.
I realized it can sound like I’m inferring that all shirtless selfie bears are shitty people. Not the case. In a perfect world their beauty would be just one of the many things they are celebrated for. After taking time to get to know them you might learn that said bear is an accomplished painter or has a double masters degree. The truth is I’m simply growing tired of a looks obsessed trend which we are all guilty of. Our community is very complex with a variety of interests and the one universal thing that connects us all is sex and therefore sex is what bonds us.
If you want to follow me or BearDance on social media? Find us at:
Instagram- The_Gay_Gasp BDBearDance
Twitter- TheGayGasp BDBearDance
Tumblr- Cubtastic BDBearDance
Mobli- TheGayGasp N/A