Aside from keeping clients happy, chasing invoices, and finding new business, creatives have yet another social media platform to worry about. But is Threads worth the effort? We take a look.
The grand launch of a new social media channel always elicits feelings of excitement. Each and every new platform – from TikTok to Twitch to Threads – entices scores of sign-ups straight after being unveiled, always with the promise of doing social media differently.
But as we've seen time and time again over the last two decades, social channels are all very similar at heart. They offer opportunities for self-promotion, valuable conversation and global connection. Yet at the same time, they also encourage endless, mindless scrolling and feelings of imposter syndrome while serving up a skewed vision of a world that's ever so slightly better or more interesting than your current life.
Undoubtedly, there are many huge benefits to being on social platforms. As creative professionals, so much of our livelihood and success depends on sharing our work and getting noticed by others. But before you're lured into the attraction of the next big social media platform, it's worth keeping five things in mind when signing up.
Know your audience
Ask yourself, before anything else: who do I actually want to speak to? Where, exactly, is my audience – and are they actively using this social platform?
If you're a graphic designer that specialises in a particular industry that's completely unrelated to the creative community, then will your clients love scrolling through your delightfully-curated Instagram feed as much as your fellow designers – or will they be tuned into Twitter instead? If you write for a living, is your target audience really going to be following your highly-creative TikTok exploits? Or would you be better off focusing your energy on creating compelling copy for Threads?
If your number one reason for being on social media professionally is to grow your business and be seen and heard by the right people, then invest your time in the channel that is most relevant to your area of creative expertise to stand out and see results.
Time is money
Is a new social media platform going to be the best use of your available time and energy? For creative professionals and freelancers especially, how we choose to spend our time counts. And the single greatest danger that social media poses for many of us is its incredible ability to distract us from what's important and impact our productivity.
These days it's not hard at all to waste many, many hours daily, endlessly channel-hopping between Instagram, Threads, YouTube Shorts and TikTok in the eternal quest for the next bite-sized dopamine hit. All of these channels have been designed and carefully honed to hook our interest and then never let go, no matter how much we try and resist.
So before you're tempted to sign up for the next platform that everyone's raving about, ask yourself: What's in it for me? Is this how I want to spend my time? If I say 'yes' to this, what am I saying 'no' to? There are only so many hours in the day, after all.
Social media should enhance your working life rather than detract from it. It's high time to make our relationship with it a much healthier, more productive and intentional one.
Is social networking the best way for you to land that next big creative project you're seeking? Or could it be better to instead look to network in real life?
A large percentage of us have never quite gotten back to 'normal' since the pandemic forced us all apart, but there really are considerable upsides to in-person meet-ups and creative collaborations. We shouldn't ever forget that.
While social media is always going to seem like the more appealing option – it's low-risk, transactional, often very one-sided, and we can exit a conversation at any time we like – it will never be a substitute for meeting up with real people for real conversations in the real world. And, of course, meet IRL, and you can always share the interaction to death on your socials afterwards for the whole wide world to see.
For us creatives, there's a sound argument to be made for having a presence on the latest social media channels in order to be seen to be on top of trends. For those working within the advertising, marketing and PR industries, especially, it's about receiving that all-important credibility ticks from clients, potential customers and peers alike.
This is true to an extent. But just because you have a social media presence, you don't have to be present. Take some time to develop a clear, purpose-driven content strategy for your social media channels. Then, stick to this, posting less often and reactively but focusing instead on quality and adding value to the conversation.
Of course, if you're signing up for a brand new platform, there'll be a level of time investment needed to get to know the channel for yourself and how to use it best. Yet the tools exist these days to easily schedule content and focus time on what matters most.
Social media channels are one route to landing new clients and boosting your professional profile – but they're certainly not the only path to take.
Have you invested time in ensuring your professional website and online portfolio present you in the best light? Is all your work SEO-optimised with the keywords you wish to be known for? Do you actively blog about the latest happenings in your industry? Have you invested time in traditional media relations, boosting your profile in a local newspaper or online trade magazine? Are you considering print-based, memorable ways to reach out and engage new customers away from screens?
Social media can unquestionably be an incredible force for good conversation and creative collaboration. But there's also a big wide world out there waiting for you – and social media should enhance your working life rather than detract from it. It's high time to make our relationship with social media a much healthier, more productive and intentional one.