The Camp 10 – Bradley Erwin, Billy Griffin, Greg Kauffman, Luke Walker

L-R: Luke Walker, Billy Griffin, Bradley Erwin and Greg Kauffman. Photo: Terry Newell

Well, the first big snowstorm of the year is officially behind us. Like many other people, I spent the day of the storm inside watching movies and perusing social media to find out what was going on in town. This inspired me to interview Camp KC’s social media team: Bradley Erwin, Billy Griffin, Greg Kauffman, and Luke Walker. These guys have been great in expanding Camp’s visibility. They have diverse interests, from crocheting and knitting to Comicon and cosplay to theater and reading, all of which made for an intriguing interview!

What is your role with the Camp KC media team?

Bradley Erwin: I help run the Instagram account for Camp KC, posting cross stories from the Facebook or Twitter pages. We also highlight other LGBT events and organizations … hoping to highlight what’s happening in the KC area and bringing awareness to these organizations and the events they put on.

Greg Kauffman: My role with the Camp KC media team is primarily focused on our Instagram account. With the help of the Camp KC team, I create and share content throughout the week. I also review our analytical data to determine what sort of content works best for us and when I can post stories and posts to reach a wider audience.

Luke Walker: I mostly run the Twitter account, but I also help out posting things on Instagram, as well as Facebook. On election night, I was updating our Facebook and Twitter accounts like a madman.

Billy Griffin: I am on the social media team with an emphasis on Facebook /Twitter. I also just started writing for Camp in the entertainment genre.

What do you find most annoying about social media?

Erwin: What I find most annoying about social media is how quickly people react to a story without having all of the information. They instantly form an opinion by just reading a headline or a quote from an article. People want their information in short bursts and do not want to read an actual story.

Kauffman: The most annoying thing about social media is the inability to see content and spread your message to a wider audience. While I interact with people I would never have [interacted with] if social media platforms didn’t exist, I only see about 3 percent of posts from people I follow, which is frustrating. It’s also frustrating to post something you would like individuals outside of your circle to see. Yes, hashtags work to an extent, but even those are regulated.

Walker: I’m not sure annoying is the right word, but the way that social media can insulate us from differing points of view is troubling to me. It’s very easy to get tunnel vision online and not be able to see other perspectives.

Griffin: Spam posts trying to bait and switch folks with promotional offers/pyramid schemes. We’re targeted by an overabundance of bogus marketing as it is. I don’t need it in my newsfeed from friends and followers.

Two questions for Bradley Erwin:

How long have you knitted and crocheted, and what are you currently working on?

I’ve always been creative. When I got to college, I discovered knitting and crocheting. I’ve been doing it for about 10 years now, all self-taught. I’ve taken some time off from my knitting and crocheting lately, since I’ve been busy applying to law school for next year. I usually make my family and my nieces stuffed animals, blankets, or scarves, but not this year. Though currently I am knitting myself a Hufflepuff scarf from Harry Potter – something just for me, which I rarely do.

What do you think the next trend for social media might be?

I can’t speak as a whole, but I think the next social media trend for business, including publications, will be ephemeral content, i.e. visual content only available for a certain period of time. It’s already grown so quickly in 2018 since Instagram launched their Stories feature to compete with Snapchat. It’s a great platform for a business or publication to use to get their brand out there and to promote their products.

Two questions for Billy Griffin:

You’re a self-described “gay nerd.” How welcoming are the nerd communities (KC Comicon, cosplay, Pokémon Go) to LGBT people?

I feel 1,000% welcomed and included flying my gay nerd flag out and about. Most Comicon events have LGBT panels, and last year even an LGBT speed-dating meet-up. Through the lenses of fantasy/fiction, people get a break from reality and the social stigmas that lie therein. Whether you’re into Disney, Pokémon, Star Wars, etc., it’s all about liking what you like, no matter the outside opinion. Hmmm, sound familiar?

The Library of Congress preserves all public Twitter tweets. How might this be valuable in the future?

Well, as of last January, the LOC announced it will only collect tweets on a very selective basis. This makes sense, as there are way too many accounts to track, spam to filter, etc. With more of a focused archive of tweets, I think this is very valuable for the future. Think of what records we have from ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, and Egypt … high culture, honoring kings and queens of antiquity. This selective Twitter archive will preserve the informal dialogue of the everyday person. I say it’s great. All naysayers can revert to a pencil and paper rather than permanently add to the Twittersphere.

Two questions for Greg Kauffman:

If you could be any character in a book, who would you be, and why?

That’s a difficult question. I’m not sure if I would want to be a single character from one book, but rather an amalgam of several individuals across three novels – The Adventures of Augie March [by Saul Bellow], Any Human Heart [William Boyd], and The Catcher in the Rye [J.D. Salinger]. I would be the absent-minded, introverted protagonist who is on a lifelong journey to become his authentic self, finding answers in day-to-day interactions, travel, and introspection; contemplative, but lighthearted at the same time.

I would be this character because of the means he uses to navigate his life. … He is flawed, but makes an effort to right his wrongs. I tend to be the guy who cracks jokes around friends and family, but I am always looking for answers to better myself.

What suggestions would you give authors on marketing themselves through social media?

First of all, be present on most of the big social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Once you create an account and get followers, post regularly. As a reader, it is frustrating to find your favorite author’s account and discover they haven’t posted for months or years. Your content could include updates on the progress you’ve made, tease them with cover art, or inform them about upcoming dates related to your work.

Second, give back to your readers/followers – take a few minutes to interact with them, respond to their comments or ask for their input. It creates a personal connection they wouldn’t otherwise have. Some authors even share excerpts of their work to generate excitement or get feedback. Your followers may be more likely to repost your content if they feel connected.

Third, don’t make all of your posts about you.

Finally, be patient. It takes time to build a following, but once you do, you’ll find it’s worth the effort.

Two questions for Luke Walker:

I understand that you perform with theater companies in Kansas City. What has been your favorite role to play in one of these productions?

Yes! I would have to say my favorite was playing Tommy’s doctor in Tommy at Musical Theater Heritage [at Crown Center]. It’s always fun to get paid to sing rock music.

Do you think there will come a time when society become tired of social media?

I’m not sure. It’s become such an ingrained part of our lives at this point that I don’t see us ever putting that cat back in the bag. But I do think that we’re collectively opening our eyes to exactly how much of our personal data we’ve been freely giving away to these large corporations, so I think there will be a shift in how we communicate online. But I don’t think people will ever get tired of taking a picture of a nice brunch plate.