Professional Storytellers

By Kayla VanFleet
Be sure to read the linked articles from classmates below
Feel free to follow me on Twitter for my stream of consciousness

Let me be blatant – I have an love/hate relationship with this beautiful world wide web. Here’s an outline of the biggest reason I’m so wary of the dynamic duo of social media & marketing. Nothing exactly new, but still something extremely important.

Marketing on social media holds a continual imbalance of the power of story telling versus the importance of content production. This interchangeable integration of both has not only shifted the way we communicate, but it has now permanently shifted the way we are wired to create.

Last week in class, Doug said “We’re training to be professional storytellers.” I posted it to twitter with our hashtag #ecsm because that hit home for me – I thrive on the irrevocable truth that we’re story tellers. To realize that we have the ability to do this on such a far-reaching & quick network is incredible. The good that transpires from this is endless.  [Companies like Upworthy  & adorable characters like Kid President have been built to spread positivity – which, of course, couldn’t catch fire without social media.]

How romantic.

But, this is where my hate comes in. As marketers – story tellers who create content –  how drastically do we skew our story to be managed as content? Marketing via social media is sparking this reversal effect; it promises success from clickable content, slowly but surely demeaning our natural creativity. It’s driving us to consciously transform our stories into content before we even begin to produce them.

Simon Dumenco wrote an Ad Age article discussing an idea of assigning students to “produce content” instead of write essays. That theoretically, they be graded by “shareability and clickworthiness” because that’s what the world demands. That sounds ridiculo-ouchhhh, I actually get your point. Further, he goes onto state that the idea that content  “implies interchangeable output — stuff that’s, like, extruded, poured into a mold, and then sent riding down some sort of virtual conveyor belt on its way to consumers.”

Most poignantly, he said “With everybody having to produce more and more content, faster and faster, standards erode.”

Do you think this is what we’re doing when writing stories as content for social media? Isn’t this what companies are doing as they spin native advertising into these ‘safe spaces’ of creativity? I’m starting to believe it:

Back to the point.

At the earliest steps of creation, content now takes precedence over the story itself. This is the marketing world we’re living in. Maybe it’s all a new way of saying the same thing, but with social media in the mix I can’t help but believe it drastically & permanently changes things.

We gauge the worth of ideas by their potential to spread – by differentiation factors, by click-ability, by transferability, all these damn buzzwords. We don’t just rewrite, but now actually write, our creative stories to fit into the mold of social media.

Should we be okay with this?

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