Great Expectations

Long gone are the days when social media was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, reconnecting with friends who moved miles away from us, finding new talent in fashion, following the most renowned creatives in the industry, and having a voyeuristic pleasure of watching the glamorous lifestyle of favourite celebrities, and up and coming influencers.

This can still be the case, but everything feels surreal or a much better word for it is hyperreal. For better or for worse, it became a powerful revenue generating machine, so much so that most businesses now have an in-house social media manager or hire digital marketing agencies.

This is also the case for many celebrities. Social media is a popular gateway for online shopping, which means there’s no longer much room for spontaneity. It was replaced by sophisticated digital marketing strategies with measurable results.

Those who are trying to get their work out there must invest quite a lot of time and effort to create relevant posts and videos, in order to stand out from the crowd.

It’s similar to the gold rush, as it can be highly profitable and have a strong impact on an individual’s income, lifestyle and career opportunities. But this also builds up unreasonable expectations of having to deliver outstanding content on a regular basis.

“The influence of social media has created a perspective in artists that they need to produce masterful quality works in a large enough quantity so that they can be shared on an almost daily basis.” Artist Robert Saint Rich (

This quote was shared by photographer Quin (@everchanginghorizon) with the following comment: “It’s something I don’t hear often enough - as an artist, being uninspired is as pertinent as being inspired. If you chase a consistent state of inspiration, you’re going to consistently fall short. To get inspired you need to dip down and live there for a while. I don’t see many people on here announcing creative ruts, but if it was up to me, they’d be brought to light, on everybody’s page.

A story is not engaging without conflict… As proven by any classic movie, TV show, book… The highlight reel lacks depth. When we post, we tell little stories, that add into our overall message. Why not be sincere about it? Keeping up the facade could pay off with inflated numbers, but is it worth spreading a false dream for others to aspire to?”

On this topic, it’s worth watching “Your Elusive Creative Genius”, a Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love”. She “muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses - and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius.”

Nowadays, instead of allowing ourselves enough time and space to connect with our inner “genius", and have an overall meaningful message that naturally resonates with others, everything works like clockwork.

In a webinar organised by the General Assembly, Nicole Solis-Sison (@nicolesolissison), Creative Director for Matter Media Group, an influencer management firm based in Los Angeles, talked about developing a strategic digital marketing campaign:

  1. Set objectives: which part of the customer journey is targeted? Which customer segments?

  2. Define KPIs: what are the metrics for success? How data will be captured?

  3. Design tactics: what type of message will be delivered? On which channel? On what device?

  4. Execute campaign: directly on platforms or engaging third parties

  5. Measure outcomes: Analyse data from campaign; Distil insights to identify opportunities

  6. Optimise results: refine tactics or abandon campaign based on results

KPIs are Key Performance Indicators such as increasing brand awareness, followers or engagement. These are also applicable to elaborate content plans, where each post is deliberately generated to fit an orderly and recognisable look, while being meticulously scheduled.

The elusive golden grail of social media algorithms means most users keep chasing rainbows, while others control the weather. The main point is to use our discernment to engage with social media on our own terms, even if that means loosing “inflated numbers” and avoid “spreading a false dream for others to aspire to” as Quin wrote on his post.