Somehow we’ve reached the end of the most abnormal year. But one thing that has stayed the same? Every business is coming out with their annual wrap-ups, reflecting on the year that was and the themes that defined it. A Year in Search or in Swipe, 2020 Wrapped and the Year in Rewind (though the pandemic was even too crazy for Youtube) – this is the time of year when all the data collected is presented back to us in emotional montages or confronting graphics of how much time you just spent on an app.
In a year like this, it would be easier to forget that it happened and move on. But in all the craziness that is hard to define, seeing some numbers on a page brings some sort of respite.
- 14 clients worked with
- 888+ emails sent
- Deleted personal Instagram account 3 times
- 7 new accounts opened (for work and otherwise)
- 434 clocked hours of work
- 30 days we’ve actually remembered to clock our hours
- Countless hours spent on Zoom
- 4 countries visited
- A record 9 months spent in one location
- 1 fresh brand and website launched for The Social Story
Suffice to say, it wasn’t an ordinary year. When travel, community and even just going out of the house were taken off the table, we tried to bury ourselves into our work to mixed results.Because hey, a global pandemic, having our entire lifestyle ripped away from us and a cute dog distracting us each day does not a productive workplace make.
In short, it was everything but the year we had hoped for. But it was a year where we learned a lot about ourselves and our place in the world around us.
On a personal note
We were forced to recognise our own limitations and the need to take time off. For someone who obviously lives and breathes social media, the more I felt I needed a break from all the doomscrolling, the anxiety of what everyone else was doing and the shortfall of what we were able to do. So we had to take our own advice on being more mindful of our social media use.
We dedicated ourselves to our mental health and self care, relearning how to balance work with life when life could no longer consist of wandering through new cities and catching up with our friends around the world (so basically just plenty of puppy cuddles).
And in raising our own consciousness of how social media was affecting us, we wanted to help others use social media better – broadening our appeal as an ‘agency’ beyond just clients but individuals who want to feel untethered to their screens.
On the business front
This business was built to sustain a fully remote lifestyle, enabling me to fulfil every wanderlusting bone in my body. And as offices around the world closed down and ‘working from home’ was not just a luxury but a necessity, we were happy to be on the forefront.
But like many around the world, we struggled. Working remotely has rarely meant working from the confines of my childhood bedroom. It’s about being mobile, getting jittery from over-ordering coffee shops as I tap away at my laptop. It’s about the community we’ve built with other nomads around the world. And it’s about shifting our mindset around work to think beyond traditional models of the office – and by logical extension, traditional models of the work itself.
Being a remote agency allows us to fully embrace the spirit of ingenuity the world of social needs. It sits at the forefront of the innovation we’ll need to build back a better society – not just one that’s COVID-safe but one that can heal the wounds of institutional inequality that has been at the forefront of protests this year. We’ve been strengthened in our resolve to remain a fully remote company to help push this progress further forward.
On looking at our wider impact
There’s no secret that the world has been changed by this year. And as we finally look towards 2021, we want to build back better – not just to “normal.”
From racial justice to the environment, to just being better neighbours and cultivating the spirit of altruism, we can all be making a more positive impact. So what does that look like for The Social Story? This is just the beginning of our journey… there is still a lot we are hoping to achieve in 2021 and beyond.
1. In diversity
Despite the pain and anger the racial protests stemmed from, we were inspired by the momentum this was able to build. We’re a company led by a Asian Australian female and I’m still (un)learning a lot about my own culture and the way in which we contribute to the institutional racism around us.
But we want to go beyond by being mindful of the people we work with and hire. A diverse team brings diverse ideas to the creative table and our work will only be strengthened by being mindful of the backgrounds, sexuality and other identifying qualities that can help us grow. We want to open up towards more BIPOC- and female-owned businesses that have a harder time thriving in our world to share our services to promote their work.
We’re also committed to ensuring the content we put out for ourselves and our clients reflect the diverse we live in. That means questioning the semiotic references that may perpetuate cultural stereotypes. That means using better stock photos that showcase more diversity in the people and the stories they portray. That means crediting anyone we borrow from so that the smaller voices are actually amplified.
2. In sustainability
I’ll admit, this is not my strong suit. I try and make an effort to make some sustainable swaps. I’m more conscious of my plastic usage and my waste. As a company that largely exists online anyways, we’ve avoided having to figure out how to send product more sustainably or reduce office overheads.
But we realise that there is more to be done. We’re keen to look into phone companies or banks that are a more sustainable option. And if and when the world brings back travel, we want to focus in on how we can do that better too. And we’ll share our journey with you here and on our social pages.
3. In positive impact
This year has reminded us that although social media can be a great platform to communicate about issues of social change, we must go beyond to make a real difference. A lot of that has come down to donations to causes that are doing great work on the ground for many issues.
In 2021 (and beyond), The Social Story is committed to regularly putting our money where our mouth is and contributing to causes that promote causes we care about – with a particular focus on female empowerment and education. We will also volunteer our services towards organisations that are otherwise unable to access our services through We Make Change or Giving Way.
Look, we know this is just a start. And we count on people to hold us accountable, to continue to teach us on better ways forward and to grow and learn with all of you. We hope you’ll stick around for our next chapter.
To follow along, make sure you’re following us on Instagram. Till then, we’ll see you in 2021. I mean, how much worse could it be? (NB: this is not a challenge)
As social media platforms quickly ban 45 from posting further sedition, what does that mean for the future of the platforms, and more importantly, our role in shaping it?
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.
2020 has not been the year that we anticipated. But it’s given us an opportunity to turn our business vision into something better. This is our commitment to building a better social.