If you ask anyone to list the top five things which have transformed our lives the most in the past ten to fifteen years, there is a big chance that the social media would be among them. But not only have services like Facebook or Twitter changed the way we communicate with each other on the personal level, but they have dramatically affected the business world as well.
The commercial interest in social platforms as a viable marketing medium has only become more prominent over the past decade. Before that time, it was completely fine for an established business to launch one or two campaigns per year, in additions to running some promotions in between and that's about it. Now unless you maintain a notable and consistent online presence, chances are your business will soon be forgotten. By today's standards, your brand needs to stay current and active on relevant social networks not once per month or once per week, but on daily basis. And for that to happen you need, well, creative content to share with your community.
Not too long ago, creative agencies that worked in digital were mostly concerned with web design and app development, in addition to more traditional formats of online advertising. Today, and due to the ever increasing demand, you can hardly find a creative business that doesn't offer some sort of content creation for social networks. Some niche agencies may not explicitly advertise it, but if a client asked them if they can create something for Facebook or Instagram, they would probably be open to discuss it anyway. Social media marketing has indeed opened the door for many more profitable opportunities for the creative industry. From large-scale agencies to living room start-ups and individual freelancers, each could find a fish their size to catch.
But while the social media became like a golden river that streams money to creative businesses at a relatively consistent pace, it has undoubtedly also become an abyss for many creative professionals. It's the place where all your time and effort may go in vain, and it is not necessarily your fault. You could create amazing content which may then get ruined by one or more external factors. Maybe the posts don't reach the right audience due to poor optimization, or maybe the client fails to communicate or align the content properly on their own pages, or maybe the algorithm changes and doesn't work in your favor. All of these are realistic scenarios, but to your client, they will probably just look at numbers and tell you that the campaign has failed because your work wasn't creative enough. Which, to be fair, is also a possible scenario.
On the social media it takes not more than a few seconds for the viewer to decide whether to pause at your post and give it another look or to just keep scrolling. Moreover, if an unpaid post doesn't receive enough interactions in the first few hours, or perhaps even minutes on some platforms, it may soon be buried deep down in the timeline and only people who deliberately visit your page would be able to see it there. So for a creative professional working on, let's say, a new Facebook campaign for a specific brand, it can be really frustrating to realize that your work may go completely unnoticed, regardless of how good or bad it is.
But the one thing that, as a visual designer, irritates me the most about content creation for the social media is the fact that many brands today tend to irrationally chase trends in a desperate attempt to increase their reach, and hoping that maybe one day their post goes viral. That means you will often be asked to create content that is not at all relevant to your client's brand. Not only that, but you also need to keep in mind that you might be developing something that everybody else is creating at the same exact moment or has published already a few minutes ago. The outcome is clearly the complete digital mess that we see online today; from posts that are too flashy for no obvious reason, to fearless marketing stunts and even some bizarre content that may hurt a brand's image more than doing it any good.
Unfortunately, instead of using the social platforms to communicate with their audiences more effectively, many brands have turned it into a battlefield where they fight over who posts about Halloween first. And as if it has been demanded by the people to see a new Halloween post on every single page that exists online every single year, and each of them needs to look different but also similar. Right?
I believe making a success on the social media today has become less about being creative and more about reaching the right person at the right time with the right message. It goes without saying that every brand wants you to stop scrolling once you see their post. But aside from the fact that their content may not even make it to your timeline for one reason or another, it's practically difficult to stand out when everybody is making some noise. Imagine a hundred person shouting your name all at the same time. You would hardly, if ever, be able to tell who is who or what are they even saying. I believe it is the same thing with the content we create for the social media. A post doesn't have to be too weird or too loud in order to be social media-worthy. It could be simple and clean and still works perfectly, but above all, it always needs to be relevant.
Okay, now it is your turn to tell me how do you feel about the social media in 2020. Do you generally like what you see on there? And if you're a content creator yourself, are you satisfied with the digital work you do for your clients?
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Le brief is a new series where I will be sharing some of my thoughts which are relatively longer and more structured than a regular post, yet somewhat shorter than a typical article. I will be mostly dabbling into topics related to visual design, branding, marketing and technology. If you like this post and you are interested to see more like it in the future, it would make my day if you follow me on one or more of the social networks to connect and to get updates when new content is available.
Wear a mask and stay safe.
Ramy Elbasty
28 SEP 2020

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