Designing with honesty is a hard thing to do. Whether it’s for a client or for yourself, it can be very tempting to be seduced by what’s already out there. To throw up smoke and mirrors to try and appear bigger and better than you actually are. This is the way with digital content now. Instagram is full of it. Accounts with followers in the thousands, posting ‘content’ that is the meat of what they provide. Unfortunately the speed and mass of content going out there, means half of it tends to be stolen from somewhere else. Again, Instagram is the biggest culprit for this. But it’s not actually ‘stolen’ in their eyes. They are 'curators', collecting and sharing. This is fine in the most part, but what if they don't credit the work? What if it's sold and displayed as their brand identity? A fitness instagram account could post a picture of your ‘before and after’ shot and use it to sell weight loss products. The problem here is where this all ends up; Your feed. Your brain is going to switch off and digest all of this, in the same place that clients have their content pushed out. It's the unmitigated content that makes our job harder.
This leads me into the dishonesty of digital content. Storytelling is completely absent now. It’s non-existent. Each piece of content that comes out, serves a much higher purpose; to be click bait. It’s for the views, the likes, the impressions, the shares etc. The quality and relevance of this content is no longer important. It’s all about the results. The problem is, these results are misconstrued. They’re based on a structure that doesn’t monitor the quality, but just the mere numbers. The other problem is that this saturates the landscape for people who are actually making good content. No wonder digital still gets a stigma in the design industry. As someone who works in digital design, I know this problem all too well. When pushing out content that is aimed at a younger audience, it can be hard to break into this landscape. The challenge is to not disregard the way things are now, but to understand them and use it to our advantage.
It’s true that we consume content like no tomorrow. So the key is to stand out in this noise and get the balance right. A client posting on Facebook is no longer enough. There needs to be engagement in every corner of social media and it needs to resonate and touch a nerve.
I’m personally sick of seeing misleading social accounts, trying to be something they are not. It’s too easy for people to pick up their phones and become Social media ‘celebrities’. These people are narcissistic above anything else. There is nothing we gain from watching them, unless they have skills or talent. It’s the black mirror of our society. Someone told me recently that someone’s kid wanted to be a Youtuber when they grew up, as opposed to perhaps joining the public service and doing something admirable or worthwhile. How did we get to that point where a kids dream job is to film themselves playing video games?
You know that feeling when you scroll down your Facebook page and you hear that little voice in your head saying, FML? Your head is now filled with the trash of other people's engagements on Facebook. That’s digital content for me; consuming trash on a daily basis. Our minds are probably clogged now from the constant bombardment of irrelevant drivel.
Venting aside, I do believe that the digital landscape is in a bad state but it does not mean we need to add to it. Good, rich content is always lost in translation because we don’t push it out in the right way. We should try to adapt and think about how to cut through the noise and reach the right audience. After all, we’re competing with literally everyone who owns a mobile phone.