Blueprints and Creativity Challenges: An Original Post
"But isn't that what makes a meme funny? Taking a template or format that already exists and basically copying it?"
Sometimes I speak to college classes about what I do for a living.
Almost always, at the question and answer portion of the class, one student will ask me about the most challenging aspects of working in social media.
My answer? Originality.
It is incredibly difficult to be original in this profession.
And while I enjoy the creative aspects of my career, it's that originality bug that always seems to make me crack. A naturally optimistic person, most of my frustrations with social media occur when I'm feeling blocked, creatively stifled, and unable to come up with original ideas, or when I see original content blatantly stolen or copied.
After expressing my thoughts about originality and creativity in one class, I was met with blank stares.
I went on to discuss having content stolen and plagiarized, and the emotionless facial expressions on the students' faces continued.
"But isn't that what makes a meme funny?" a voice echoed from the back of the room. "Taking a template or format that already exists and basically copying it?"
I was taken aback and, to be honest, a little deflated.
Does creativity and originality even matter anymore?
How can one be original – truly be original – when it seems the rest of the world isn't?
How can you come up with your own content when there's a template that exists for anything you could possibly want to create?
What is the motivation for creative thinking when you can download a calendar that tells you what to post and when for 365 days?
Where do you go to foster creativity when all you see is the same content being copied and pasted by multiple accounts on every social media platform?
I try to remember a basic rule of the internet in those moments: people who think like me are rare. It's not my ego saying this; it's just the way internet culture works.
Whether you want to call it the 1% rule, the 90-90-1 principle, or participation inequality, the idea remains the same.
Most people consume content without contributing anything to online platforms.
Few will interact with content, engage with content, or share content from another source.
But only a handful will create something.
Indeed, if there was the one piece of advice I could give to the classroom full of digital marketing students, it would be this: create.
The best way to find your voice in the vastness of social media is to use your voice. And it's impossible to find your voice if all you're doing is sharing someone else's voice, words, creations, or humor.
Creating original content is a skill that will set good digital marketers from the great ones. Because no one does that. No one thinks like that. Those people are incredibly rare.
And yes, there may be accounts that meme, copy, and steal their way to success and hundreds of thousands of followers, but those people wouldn't exist without a blueprint.
Some people are the blueprint; others follow the blueprint.
Don't let the ease of templates, pre-made calendars, meme formats, and punny copywriting stifle your creativity.
Find your voice by using it.
And for heaven's sake, post something ORIGINAL.