The Race to Irrelevance

Online Creative
Social Advertising

Through social media we love and engage with others that offer an inspiring perspective. Whether it be a unique artistic expression, the peak of a certain profession, or highly stylised pictures of foreign lands. As a creative business, the amount of agencies and creatives on Instagram are a dime a dozen.

 

Companies big and small showcasing beautiful pictures of work done for brands you may or may not care about. You may find inspiration, but does a gorgeous product design snapshot offer you real value? Does it teach you to design at a higher standard? Does it give you a level of insight you previously didn’t have? Value is in the eye of the beholder, and we’ve been missing the mark at creating value that feels true to us, and the community we care about.

Reflecting on your business can help define your worldview, and ultimately who you should be speaking to and why. We’re thinking more deeply about the relationship between our output and the beholder who defines real value. It’s an unconventional and likely arduous route – but we’re leaving social media in search of a community of like minded advocates, and saying goodbye to the preset audience dictated by the algorithm.

We’re aware of the benefits and power of social media. Today most entrepreneurs, businesses and independents set up an account and start building their audience with almost immediate results. But who really benefits from these results? We’ve taken a step back to ask ourselves what social media really is… an ecosystem with questionable results.

Social media has created a stage for many businesses, connecting them with their community and ultimately their customers. If this sounds like your business, no need to read on – but if you question the ROI of your social media efforts, continue.

By now we’re all aware of how social media works, from prior knowledge or from documentaries like The Social Dilemma. How we are the product and the largely divided opinion that you’re either totally fine about Facebook using your data, or you’ve already deleted your account.

For business, it’s been almost forced upon us as a necessity from experts, marketing strategies, articles and so forth. I’m here to tell you otherwise. It works for many, but not for everyone… unless you have the time and budget.

 

The American dream all over again

 

Fiction vs. Reality

Platforms such as Instagram have this neat trick, where they give you a taste of the dream only to take it away and put a price on it. It’s happened to many (including us) where engagement and reach seem to do very well, then the algorithm ceases it all almost overnight. Whatever we try, nothing seems to get the same engagement as before… unless you pay and promote your posts.

This starts pulling businesses into a vicious cycle of marketing. Although it’s not mandatory, most businesses feel it’s essential to their business, reaching an audience that otherwise wouldn’t be available. This of course is true, however the essential part isn’t exposure to an audience, but rather the intent of the person connecting with your story.

Are there more justifiable ways to establish a connection with your community outside of these channels? We think so.

 

A bounty on your head

 

Audience vs. Community

The more time, resource and budget you spend on your audience the more data you attain to understand habits, behaviours and engagement. Over time, you start to better understand the price of a like, follow, reshare or other. The picture of your audience becomes clearer and you’re able to continue playing the social media game more seriously.

Audience as a word feels insensitive to individuality and grouped by common patterns. For brands to speak more honestly, with value and purpose, a more direct acknowledgment is required. No business wants to build an audience that passively consumes, rather the opposite – a community who listens, connects and advocates the messages you put out there.

Contradictory to the subheading, this isn’t about choosing one over the other. Many have established communities within social channels with remarkable results. The notion is to emphasise and prioritise something more foundational; the idea of community – not building an audience for frivolous bragging rights or widespread surface exposure.

If we had to choose precedence with audiences or community, we choose the latter.

 

Compounding numbness

 

Consumption vs. Advocacy

With increasingly short attention spans and a highly competitive digital landscape of uncountable companies seeking attention, you wonder why everyone embarks on this journey?

A story can be told in many ways, through different media and in diverse styles. Is it worth telling a story to millions of people with little effect, or to a select few who truly relate and build upon that message further? We choose the latter.

 

Feeding the machine

 

Content vs. Value

Maximising success on any social channel means you need as many likes, comments and shares to hit an engagement home run. Businesses must create content that encourages such behaviour and engagement. In turn, you create content to feed the algorithmic machine rather than to provide real value to real people.

The algorithm in a nutshell prioritises clickbait content rather than valuable information. Like a menu displaying an image of a juicy burger, only to be delivered a flat, bland, dilapidated one. Like the word audience, content feels somewhat empty of substance. To choose between content or value, we choose the latter.

 

Too little butter on too much toast

 

Broadness vs. Focus

By removing the distractions and requirements of ‘successful’ social media marketing, we can work towards a purer sense of focus.

Are we truly bringing value, community and advocacy to the table by being on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? Focusing on a more direct relationship feels more useful not just to us, but to our community as well.

We want to go all in! Respond to every message, acknowledge our friends, peers and community, reciprocate that love and give it back ten-fold. Focusing on that one direct channel allows us to give it 100%.

 

Choosing the latter…

 

Conclusion

By not stretching yourself too thin, you’re able to apply the fundamentals of what is true to you. The juice for likes and engagement on social channels alone no longer feels worth the squeeze.

Time and effort spent growing an audience will forever be imprisoned within those ecosystems. Can you transfer the thousands of followers you’ve cultivated elsewhere? Sadly the answer is no. A frustration in some cases, but perhaps a clean slate as well, giving you an opportunity to think deeply about the output and value you create. With less urgency placed on social media, a huge amount of breathing space is added that allows you to better run your business.

This is our goodbye letter. To platforms that encourage addictive behaviour, lumping our communities into behavioural categories, perpetually feeding the machine and circulating the agenda of the algorithm, we bid you farewell.