Author: Jayr Sotelo, Motion Graphics Director

In this day and age of smartphones, scrolling, and “stories,” not just brands but normal people are in need of generating and consuming “content.” As a brand, having “actionable,” “engaging,” and “relevant” content can get your brand millions of followers and your product moving off the shelves. As a normal social media user, making the same kind of content could land you thousands of subscribers, likes, and perks from brands that want to utilize your niche audience to showcase their products.

“Content” is the new way we refer to any sort of media (e.g., photographs, drawings, designs, and animations) that get uploaded onto social media networks. This is throwing a wrench in the way advertising has been done over the years – some agencies have capitalized on it, the smaller, nimbler ones, and others have not been able to find the right combination of quality, price, and resources.

That is the problem with this new advertising model. It changes every month. One month is about quantity – I remember some strategists talking about the Facebook algorithm and how it would favor people and brands who posted often. The next month is all about sponsored posts, which cost money not just to produce but also to be showcased in sponsored post containers.

I think the biggest thing we have learned in this endeavor is that most of the people innovating or just plain trending in social media aren’t brands. Passionate people making content on their own are the ones setting some of these trends. And advertisers are trying to mimic this with a process that has been handed over from TV spots and print shoots.

So how do we create a process that takes into consideration the uninhibited passion of a content creator while making it scalable and efficient enough to be profitable? How do we stop following trends from independent content creators and make our own? How can we sell clients on content that is fresh, original, and relevant?

One of the biggest mistakes that I see happening right now in content creation is wanting to compare it to a TV spot or print ad. Comparing the process of preproduction, production, and postproduction of a TV spot to the kind of turnkey solution needed for content is ridiculous and borderline unreal. The budgets for social content are much lower in comparison to those mentioned before, and if you take into consideration the short schedules and high demand for high-quality creative content, it’s damn near impossible to compare the two.

Enough about the difficulties in content. As the group head of the motion graphics team here at The Richards Group, I’ve had to deal with all of these difficulties and I’ve also learned you can only make that progress happen by coming at it with the right mindset.

Collaboration is key when dealing with creative social content. I believe the roles have to blur a bit between art director, writer, photographer, animator, producer, etc. Having the expertise of the production department early can help to detect any problems that might arise at the production stage.

To match the passion that an independent content producer has and brings to their own content, I try to hire people who are passionate about creating things on their own time. Personal work to me is a very important thing for a creative – creating their own videos, animation, or even clothing (e.g., Deadly Doodles). I think this is where the creative mind plays and pushes the boundaries. This is necessary for successful and fresh creative content production.

I consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by talented young creatives who love developing their own content first. This helps the brands with which we work have passion and freshness behind their creative content. This model has not been an easy thing to create and to maintain, but I am happy to be working toward solving this and many other creative problems in the future.