Chris Appello ’21 on social media as a creative outlet for self-expression

Social media have always been my outlets for self-expression and creativity. When I was a closeted gay man walking among the hyper-masculine jocks of my all-male Catholic high school, I never felt comfortable showcasing my queerness in a space that demonized its existence. Despite living and breathing in that toxic environment for four years, social media provided me with a channel to be who I wanted, free of inhibitions.

On Twitter, I established my own authentic voice without fear of critique or ridicule, and in time, I amassed hundreds of followers by simply being myself. With every tweet, I was unsheathing my sword and slaying my “demons” left and right. After publishing my third viral tweet, I knew that my content resonated greatly with the online community with whom I was engaging. Having this newfound surge of self-confidence, I realized how impactful the digital world can be for the voiceless and unheard; thus, I knew I wanted to pursue a career that involved digital communication.

Upon arrival at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, I began my college career as a newspaper and online journalism major due to my passion for writing. The objectivity and dullness of news writing, however, failed at fulfilling my creative side, and so I knew that a change in my concentration of study was necessary by the end of my freshman year.

After joining the social media team of University Union, Syracuse University’s entertainment programming board, I became aware of my infatuation with digital content production. This sophomore year role provided me with the opportunity to finally produce creative copy, appeasing my identity as a writer and ultimately influencing my decision to pursue the digital advertising major.

As an advertiser, you not only need to be hyper-observant of your surroundings, but also transparent and charismatic in your communication with your selected target audiences.  I learned these two valuable lessons working a social media marketing internship when I traveled abroad to Florence, Italy, and naturally, I was the only American in the company, Flod Republic. Having had only a year of schooling in advertising strategy and concepts, I courageously developed social media campaigns and oversaw an entire social media master calendar storing promotional content of Florence’s best restaurants, sites and activities for tourists.

With the current socio-economic climate brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic, I have had to be both creative and tenacious in my job search. Consequently, I applied to be an online contributor for CLLCTVE, a Syracuse University startup that incubated in the LaunchPad and is now in residence at Techstars Los Angeles.  Founded by Kelsey Davis, the digital platform connects creatives across the country and provides them with real job opportunities. Creating and editing blog stories all summer, I have been polishing my written communication skills in preparation for an entry-level job in the digital advertising industry. Whether I’m writing about how Depop is transforming Gen Zers into a generation of young entrepreneurs or tips on how to improve your virtual workspace in quarantine, I am establishing my voice in digital space more and more with every click of my keyboard.

In the meantime, I am enthusiastic to start my new role with the LaunchPad as Global Fellow, writing profile stories on inspiring and innovative individuals within the Syracuse University community, while also helping increase the organization’s social media presence on Instagram. All in all, I crave to make a positive impact with any work I contribute and intend on utilizing this experience as a stepping-stone into an advertising career.

Story by Chris Appello ’21, LaunchPad Global Fellow; photo supplied