This morning, ELLE UK teamed up with Instagram for a very special event - our #PowerOfStorytelling breakfast.
The theme of which was an issue very close to our hearts: the role of tech in empowering female voices. Millions of women share their personal lives on Instagram every day. A lot of these stories are inspiring and empowering, and we wanted to celebrate just that.
Loaded with advocado on toast from The Good Life Eatery and green juices, we watched as Instagram COO Marne Levine and Editor-in-Chief Lorraine Candy chaired a brilliant panel discussion with some fantastically interesting women, with a call to action for more awareness of all the different roles that are available in the technology and social media world.
Then it was the turn of panelists Ruth Chapman, MATCHESFASHION.com Co-Founder, Elle Columnist Rhyannon Styles and Worldwide Tribe founder Jaz O’Hara to take the floor.
Here are 10 of the best things we learnt from the discussion:
1. Instagram will empower women’s voices
The photo-sharing platform is especially good at empowering women - a showcase for their particular brand of creativity. Whether that takes the form of promoting small businesses or finding a way to put a human face on a crisis, as Worldwide Tribe founder Jaz O’ Hara has done, it enables women to share their story in their own unique way.
2. There is a huge range of jobs for women in tech
Marne added that there are plenty of jobs available in tech that many women don’t know about. From PR and marketing to designing and human resources, it’s not just about coding. Marne believes that by working hard to highlight the jobs available, we can create change by getting more women involved.
3. Social media has created a new language
And we're not talking emojis. Ruth Chapman, co-founder of MATCHESFASHION.com, believes that Instagram is really key when it comes to providing instant, detailed customer feedback. ‘Technology enables us to talk to our customers in a new way,’ she added, ‘through it, we have been able to create a new dialogue with people from all over the world.’
4. From greater audience, comes greater inspiration
Instagram currently has 400 million users.That's 400 million different perspectives. Ruth Chapman believes that you'd be mad not to take full advantage of this when developing a brand: ‘if the audience is greater, the possibilities are more interesting.’
5. Taking people on a visual journey creates communities
Growing up transgender and without social media, our columnist Rhyannon Styles said she found it hard to find a role model she could relate to. Now she believes things are very different, ‘Instagram allows the community to come together and exchange stories,’ she told the audience, ‘it can show that things are possible’ in a way that people might not have imagined.
6. It’s not just about the physical, it’s also about the psychological and the emotional
Rhyannon's perception of her transition - and the reason why we chose her as an ELLE columnist - is multi-faceted. There is, of course, a visual transformation in physically altering your gender, but there is also an emotional and psychological journey which, if you are creative, you can use Instagram to help you portray, giving better ways for others to experience the path you might be on. ‘You can build a relationship with a person and hear their voice,' explained Rhyannon, 'it’s very personal but also very important.’
7. A considered approach is key
There is a trend in social media to use the various channels as a dumping ground, for every photo, thought or whim that might arise and while this might work for some, for others who have a clear message to project or a brand to cultivate, Ruth Chapman believes a more considered approach could be better.
Interestingly, Jaz admitted to prioritising authenticity and immediacy, as a means of prompting engagement.
8. We're changing perceptions of 'beautiful'
Conventional beauty standards are really restrictive and have been hurting women's self-esteem for decades (actually, probably longer). Through visual storytelling in the hands of more people, social media can help to subvert the norms and override the stereotypes.
9. The relationships you build can transform your life
Jaz, whose work consists of heading into the migrant camp at Calais - named The Jungle - to document the human experiences of those within its walls. Learning of some of the conditions in The Jungle, Jaz decided to approach a barber with a relatively large IG following and solicited his help, both to give some of the Calais camp residents a fresh 'do, but also to join forces in putting the message out online.
We'd love to hear your perception of the female voice on social media. Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @ELLEUK.
WORDS: Chloe Sherard-Knott