Social Media for the Ages

Hudson Bay from Churchill, MB

Since the last issue focused on vegans of all ages and how to ensure more people felt connected to a community, I’ve started thinking about how this can be extended to the digital world. With so many different platforms, and more popping-up each day, it’s hard to cover all the bases without losing sleep (and maybe even your day job).

Chances are, things like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are an easy decision, but what about everything else?

For the magazine, I try to cover those three, as well as Pinterest, tumblr, Google+, YouTube, and (lately) Periscope. Granted, I’m not paying equal attention to all of them, but I’ve also got a magazine to publish!

Of course, it’s easy to go beyond that, and some might argue that you should if you want to reach people outside of the typical demographics of the more popular platforms. One example that I have yet to jump into is Snapchat, and even though I know it has a rather young group of users that I would love to have interested in T.O.F.U., I’m still not sure how to use it effectively.

You are the Cat’s Pajamas

Effectiveness is one of the biggest issues, given that we each only have so much time to spend on all of these things. Sure, I can post all the photos I want on Instagram, and share all the interesting stuff I come across on Facebook, but is it really worth leaving my mark if no one sees it?

Obviously, there are plenty of people out there who suggest that they have all the answers, and I’m sure some of them know their stuff rather well. Hell, if I didn’t think it was possible to be an expert in social media, I probably wouldn’t have stuck with my previous job as long as I did. That being said, even if you don’t know the ins and outs of each medium, there is something you understand better than any expert ever will: yourself.

Whether or not that includes your brand (be it blog, magazine, cookbook, etc.) or simply you, which is a brand in a way, doing what you feel is right and posting what interests you is still a great way to connect with people in my books. Sure, you can refine the presentation as time goes on, but beneath it all people are really just looking for things that they can relate to.

Or cats that look grumpy.

Notes From the Field

So, how do I represent T.O.F.U. and myself on the platforms I use? Overall, it’s not a completely rigid formula, but some general guidelines include:


  • Heavy on the images, when possible.
  • If it’s related to the magazine directly, I try to inject humour.
  • 1-2 posts a day, maybe less on weekends. Recently, I’ve started repeating posts at different times, but for years I avoided it mainly based on how it looks on the page. Now, I’ve come to accept that barely anyone actually visits your page to see posts.
  • Topics outside of the magazine typically involve things other than veganism, but I provide a connection wherever I can.
  • When possible, I tag other pages/people. This not only makes it easier for my audience to find out more about what I’m talking about, it also notifies the page/person being talked about, and this can lead to them sharing it with their audience too.


  • Tweets tend to be in the moment, whether it’s related to me personally or the magazine.
  • When possible, I try to use humour and relate it to pop culture, current news, etc.
  • Retweets involve politics, environmental issues, race, sexism, gender, and other important topics from people who may not necessarily be vegan.
  • If I tweet something more than once, I try to reword it, or I retweet a similar thing from the other account I use (@tofumagazine and @ryanpatey).


  • Images are more personal and in the moment. My aim is to let people know what I’m doing at that moment, not just what I’m eating. Although, I do that too!
  • I connect more with people who are sharing the world around them, not just perfectly plated meals.
  • I try to respond to any comments as soon as possible.
  • I typically use only 3-4 hashtags.


  • I tend to post more political and feminist stuff here since tumblr has a great audience for both.
  • A lot of the content on the website, including reviews and posts about interviews, etc., is not posted to tumblr.


  • Given the high percentage of repins on Pinterest, I try to post mainly original content from the website.
  • I’m working on developing more boards with topics outside of veganism, especially things other than recipes.


  • I’m still working out ideas for this platform, and it currently only involves tour footage.
  • Ideally, I’ll start to use it to provide updates in regard to an upcoming issue, magazine projects, etc.


  • I’m keen on the idea of Google Hangouts, but I have yet to do one. Currently, I’m unsure as to whether or not Periscope or other apps have offered an alternative with the functions of Hangouts.
  • Otherwise, it’s nothing but crickets…


  • I’ve been using it to chat while house siting, so there are lots of moments with pets.
  • However, the interactive aspect has me thinking I may use it in the future for chats around topics covered in the newest issue, behind the scenes while working on an issue, etc.

Note: Regardless of the platform, whenever possible, I make sure to use images that are properly sized for each one. It can be tedious (seriously Twitter, why do you have to be so different?), but I think it ends up looking a little better and gives you more control over how things appear. A quick search on Google will give you plenty of infographics and other bits related to this, but be sure to look at something current since this stuff changes every so often.

Further Down the Rabbit Hole

Along with the mainstream options, if you want to dig a little deeper, there’s even a vegan-specific network or two that seems like it should be something we’re all using to connect. Depending on your goals, being able to post to a site dedicated to vegetarians and vegans is probably a great thing, and supporting such sites has its benefits too. Yet several of them have come and gone over the years with little mention from some of the more active folks I know on other platforms.

From Volentia to Bleat, and probably a few in-between, veg-friendly networks have been sprouting up for a number of years now. More recently, VeganWALL has been trying to gather up all the usual suspects of vegan social media: recipes, restaurant listings, memes, communities dedicated to different aspects, and personal profiles.

So, I’ve started posting there too, and I’ve seen a little bit of attention come from it. Sure, it’s not going to make me leave Facebook (I suspect Facebook will end up doing that if they keep tweaking their algorithms and making it harder for my stuff to be seen without paying!), but it is nice to know that there is a site out there that possibly understands the vegan community a little better than one that is just as likely to show you a McDonald’s ad as it is to suggest you like a page on animal rights.

Share Your Experience

Overall, choosing the platforms to take a part in is a mix of time, effort, personal taste, and a number of other things. I’m still learning what works for me, and I’m also trying to keep myself from using them all and giving up my time away from a screen, but I can’t deny that the ones I have used have benefitted the magazine and myself greatly. Plus, it’s been fun to see so many different options pop-up over the years to let us all connect, and I’m looking forward to seeing where things go, even if I don’t find a use for all of them myself!

So, how about you? What ones do you use? I’d love to hear about your experiences and whether or not they’re different from mine!

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