Is digital killing creativity?

Yesterday, I was writing copy for a paid search and social media campaign and, considering myself a creative content creator, the job made me feel really unhappy. As a guest blogger I’ve gotten used to writing articles with a 800-100 word count and since the start of the COVID crisis I’ve been video-recording keynote presentations with a duration of 10-15 minutes, but the guys from Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn were actually instructing me to start counting c-h-a-r-a-c-t-e-r-s. Even worse, each of the respective media platforms impose their own length limits. For some fields you can use up to 150 characters, but other ones only allow 30 for conveying a similar message. As a result, I had to trim all content separately, manually, and repeatedly.

Of course, I will get a bit of creative compensation when crafting the infographic, video clip or white paper to be linked to the social media post or to be hidden behind a lead generation form. Though a click-through rate of a few percent is not always a huge motivation.

Video killed the radio star and – in my humble opinion – digital is killing (part of) human creativity. I know we’re living in the internet age and that paid social media is a good lead generation tool, but I would be happy to leave this ‘copywriting’ to the AI robots. They don’t have a heart or a soul, but these aren’t necessary qualifications for this kind of tasks.

Tweet sheet for presenters

With 230 million monthly active users and half a billion tweets sent every day, Twitter is one of today’s most relevant social communication tools.

Probably you don’t have as many fans as Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga yet, but be convinced that Twitter is something that can add real value to (but in certain isolated cases also spoil) your public presentations. Whether you like it or not, quite a number of people in your audience will have their smartphones, phablets and tablets standby during your talk, and use them to send out a tweet when you’re doing of saying something that’s worth broadcasting to their followers.

twitter_bird

Here are a few ways to benefit from Twitter during your preparation, presentation and follow-up:

  • Make it easy for the twitterers in the room: design your slide titles and messages for tweetability. Keep them crisp, short and sweet.
  • Inform your audience about your presence on Twitter. Communicate both your ID and (preferably a presentation specific) hash tag early in your speaking slot (or mention it on your first slide). So they can follow you, mention you and reach out about your speech.
  • If you have the technical means on hand, it may also be interesting to install a Twitter wall. To facilitate interaction with the audience, to collect comments and questions during your talk, or to let your listeners socialize with each other.
  • You may also reuse the Twitter IDs you collect to thank the people in the room for being there, connect with them or send them links to additional material.
  • After your presentation, use content curation tools such as Storify to reconstruct and publish a summary of your performance on stage. And, if something positive was tweeted about you or about your presentation, don’t hesitate to retweet it to your followers.

But the presence of twitter addicts in the room may also give you a few reasons to worry:

  • First of all, not everyone is a multi-tasker. So, the guys (or the girls) playing around with their mobile devices may not be paying proper attention to your words or your slides. As such, it’s often a good practice to insert twitter breaks, giving people the time to share their opinion or to upload a photo.
  • Also beware when folks start conducting back channel conversations or –even worse– criticizing your presentation. Either make sure you can read what’s being (re-)tweeted or you have an ally in the room that monitors the conversations.

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Profession: storyteller

“The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task in hand covers both bases, but not often.” — Hugh MacLeod in “How to be Creative

The quote above, also known as Hugh MacLeod’s Sex and Cash theory, says it clearly: you need a job to earn your living, and “being creative” is not always on top of the list of an employer’s expectations. The ideal occupation, of course, is when you can follow your passion, leave your mark on the world and at the same time make money. But, there’s some good news for the creative among us…

A study carried out by the French ManpowerGroup has identified three emerging job profiles for the future: the Protector, the Optimizer and the Storyteller.

The latter one, the Storyteller, is described as  a “craftsman of engagement”. He or she gives meaning to (or renews) the company’s engagement in times of crisis and communicates with all stakeholders through dialog and social media. In today’s organizations we often find these creative people in marketing and communications functions such as “Content Marketer”, “Digital Brand Manager” or “Community Manager” and in business supporting roles, including “Innovation Valorization Managers”, “Business Evangelists” and “Cultural Engineering Consultants”.

storyteller_bizcard

Although I have met only very few people with “Corporate Storyteller” on their business card (some companies have seen the light, and e.g. SAP hired “Chief Storyteller” Julie Roehm about 20 months ago), storytelling is becoming the new gospel of business. And those creatives who can create compelling stories, get their message across, and inspire audiences’ passion will stand out in the new era of content and meaning.

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