Who Is The Social Story
What makes our social media agency different and what are we trying to achieve?
The short story of how we began is quite simple: I’m Tiff, founder and chief storyteller here at the Social Story and I believe in social media as a place for public discourse and positive change. And The Social Story was born out of a desire to see that happen.
But if you wanted a little more, let’s start from the very beginning.
Once upon a time…
From a young age, I was fascinated with the idea of communication. From pop media and its political readings, to political communication or questioning the way collective truth was constructed, I was enthralled by the idea that what we thought and believed was a product of someone’s crafting. Our belief that milk gave us strong bones was born in an advertising agency’s board room. How we thought about history and wars was underpinned by the people who won them. Everything around us was a byproduct of communications.
This fascination set me down a path of studying Communications in university. For my theoretically-inclined mind, I was enthralled. We would watch movies with a feminist lens and call it an assignment. We’d delve into the ins and outs of semiotics and how messages were crafted but often misunderstood. We were taught about the need for self-regulation of media professionals and the dangers if such professionals failed.
TL;DR – The way we communicated always fascinated me and I was hyper-aware of the responsibility for the communicators to do right by the public and the great many threats there were to this.
Now let’s fast-forward a couple years into my corporate career. I’d done my fair share of internships in various marketing and advertising businesses, often the one to handle their social media work because it was seen as the intern work that didn’t need a staffed person on it. That was until I landed at a global PR firm and was put in an internship with their social media team as, it would turn out, I had three years experience in the area already.
This was my first introduction into the professionalisation of social media work – particularly for large, global brands. Even more so when I moved to socially-led agency, my understanding of social media’s role in the marketing sphere – not as an extension of existing practices, but a monolith of itself with its own rules and ways of working – grew.
Social could no longer be an afterthought to other marketing practices. It deserved its own resources, its own way of thinking and its own strategies.
All while this was going, my use of social media – as was every millennial’s – was ever-increasing. I started seeing the rise of meme culture, the introduction of the influencer, an algorithm slowly overtaking the once-chronological news feeds (yeah, remember those days?). And with it came the bad: the online bullying, trolls, misinformation, the addiction.
And yet, I persevered. To me, social was also the place for so much good. Conversations collated on hashtags like #NotYourAsianSidekick reminded us that narratives needed to be nuanced and showed us that while mass media required more linear narratives, the world of social media not only allowed for each of us to tell a story but demanded that it be so. We were suddenly in charge of telling our own stories in ways that were free and accessible.
Activist movements were born and activated through social media. #BlackLivesMatter, the Arab Spring, #MeToo have all been a testament to the way in which social can connect us with conversations that matter and inspire action. And to think that Twitter was just meant to be an SMS platform. It was now a global phenomenon with the ability to tell news differently, connect directly with brands and speak back to power.
We all lament the days before social media but can’t get away from it. We all want to spend less time on it but rarely put our phone down. We wish there was less negativity on the platform, more realness, but the Kardashians still remain the most followed on the platform. And it gets increasingly worse as distrust of information online grows.
If the Australian media predominantly relies on the idea of self-regulation, why couldn’t social media? If we manage to build up the media literacy of every user, make us more mindful of our use of social media and use the possibilities we are afforded by these digital platforms for good, surely we could turn the scales on all of this.
The Social Story aims to be more than just a social media agency, but a platform to share resources for good social media.
We take on the responsibility to create the social space that we want to see. So we aren’t just committed to working with social enterprises and passionate entrepreneurs. We infuse our values in all of our work:
In every strategy we produce, in every piece of content we create, we always think about our audience first. Not only is this smart strategy (the old saying, ‘build it and they will come’ doesn’t fly so well in an oversaturated social landscape) but it’s a way of understanding the impact of what we do. This isn’t just about what we or the client want to say. How will the audience take it?
Are we considering if certain people will be offended? Have we thought through the wider impact of our content? By ensuring we understand our audience and the environment around us, we can ensure our work has been well considered.
2. Innovative and progressive
We want to help push the conversations further and not shy away from subjects that can create positive change. Whether we highlight feminist narratives or social injustices, we are proud to work with clients that put this at the centre of their work too.
Social media can often lull us into a false sense of ‘everyone agrees with me.’ But we want to challenge how you think, expose you to different ideas and open up dialogues about narratives that matter. Our desire to increase the media literacy of both our clients and our wider audience plays a huge part in helping us all be more critical of the content we consume and be vigilant in making it better.
3. Driven with purpose
Ultimately, all that we do – from our clients’ work to what appears on this blog and our own socials – will be an extension of our wider mission to make social a better place. It starts small – we won’t use bots to just hack a company up to 1k followers as they’re not meaningful connections. We won’t create content for content’s sake on a National Burger day that has no relevance to our client’s brand.
But we hope it goes further too. By working with our giving partners – Nomads Giving Back and Stella’s Child – we hope to continue using our platform to share the impact of our clients. But more than that, we hope that our content will inspire you to rethink how you see social and empower you to use it for good.
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This year has put social media activism into the spotlight – both it’s opportunities and its pitfalls. It’s up to us to make the most of it.
It’s unrealistic to think that we can switch off from social media completely. But there are small steps you can take to be more mindful and use it more constructively.