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Why does social media suck right now? (and what you can do about it)

Earlier this month, Creative Boom hosted a poll on Twitter which asked its followers: “How have you seen social media change since you started using it, engagement-wise? And a massive 82.1% of you replied ‘It’s got worse’, with just 7.8% saying ‘It’s got better’ and 10.1% seeing no change.

Following this result, a second poll then asked; “Does this mean you’re thinking of leaving social media altogether?” Unhappily, 47.2% of you replied: ‘Yes, but feel I can’t’. Meanwhile, 3.3% say you’re definitely quitting, and 10% are just not sure. Only 39.5% are staying – which is hardly a vote of confidence in the current state of social media.

Besides the constant push for short form video and thus neglect for traditional photo posts, what’s gone wrong and how can we, as creatives, recover from this sudden baffling change?

Interestingly, many are moving through different platforms. Award-winning illustrator Sravyaa states “90% of my business used to come through Instagram until this year,” she says. “But now I find that building relationships on Twitter and sharing my work on Pinterest is working best. So I’d say diversify your platforms and the type of content. Make it specific to the audience on each channel, and have a strong CTA (call to action).”

Similarly designer Antonio Carusone has had a similar experience. “Recently, I’ve given up on Instagram,” he says. “I was posting there daily and saw little growth and engagement. The funny thing is, now that I’ve stopped, I’m growing in followers: what a weird, broken platform! Nowadays, I’m focusing instead on Twitter, where I use Typefully to plan my tweets, and I’m seeing nice results.”

We were also surprised to read that Facebook Business Pages are having a bit of a comeback.  “I get more orders and interaction on my Facebook business page than on Instagram, which is dire,” says jewellery designer Lindsay. “With Stories and Reels, folks just mindlessly scroll rather than interact. Maybe Facebook is doing better for me because I’m from a small community and locals know my business.”

LinkedIn also shouldn’t be slept on! People don’t always think of LinkedIn as a social network, and certainly not somewhere aimed at creatives, given its ugly and confusing layout. Yet, in 2022, many are finding it useful for self-promo.

As designer and animator Neil Grunshaw puts it: “Twitter and Instagram are like busking in the hope that an A&R walks past and gives you a record deal… in other words, pissing into the wind.” To him, LinkedIn is much more practical and targeted. “You’re selling to a network of professionals who may actually commission you,” he points out. However, there is a caveat. “It only works if you’ve got a network in the first place, which isn’t the case if you’ve just entered the creative industries.”

It’s pretty well known by now that the reason many platforms are changing is due to social media’s newcomer; TikTok. Despite its popularity having lasted two years, many creatives still fear that the app is reserved for ‘silly dance and lip sync videos’ but they couldn’t be further from the target of the app (within their own niche that is).

The main reason to use the app, however, is engagement as we all miss the Golden days of Instagram when engagement was at a high.

Traditionalist methods are also worth reverting to as they can often build more personal relationships. Emails, cold calls and even real newsletters can expand your business awareness in a greater way than you may expect.

Finally, understanding algorithms may be a waste of time as they change so often. Instead, we recommend that you focus on what you can control. That’s why people talk about niches so much – you want to demonstrate that you’re an expert in your field. 


Illustration by Defaced

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