One of the first things I remember of my childhood was my first day at grade school. My dad had been transferred once again, we moved a fair bit because his job required him to follow advances in technology (My Dad worked for the Federal Government in the computer science department, computers were new, very big, and very, very expensive, and buildings were literally built around them in different cities). This was during the peak of the swinging sixties, and there was a lot of experimenting going on, including learning methods in schools. We had moved from the capital city of Ottawa where I had been going to a Montessori school, to a small city on the prairies, and I had been enrolled in the traditional K to 12 conventional school systems.
I remember my shock and horror walking into class and seeing the desks in rows! In Montessori, we had extra-large pillows on the floor and ‘workstations’ where we would do our ‘work’ such as math and science. There was no set schedule for Montessori students, you learned at your own pace, you decided what you would learn and when, individually! The bell rang, and the teacher addressed the class: ‘It’s time for art, everybody get your art supplies out, it’s time to be creative!’ It was a severe shock to my system when I told my teacher, ‘I don’t feel creative right now, I’d like to work on math now’ and the teacher said ‘No, it’s time for art. The class is going to do art now.’ As much as I didn’t feel like doing art at that moment, I had no choice, and I began to force myself to be creative, on demand, according to someone else’s schedule, and…my art sucked!
Pretty much right off the bat, I immediately grasped the concept that even though EVERYBODY is given crayons and paper, not just anyone can DRAW. Skills vary and vary dramatically. Very few people have the skills and capacity to create art that resembled reality, and even fewer can create beautiful, realistic, nay, transformational works of art with mere paper and pencil. In reality, for the majority of people out there, they should have their paper and pencils taken away because what they create does more harm than good.
Today, social media is everywhere. All you need is log in credentials and you can have an account. There is absolutely no barrier to entry. Once again, EVERYBODY is empowered with today’s social media version of paper and crayons, and EVERYBODY can create and post whatever they want. And, you guessed it; there are some folks who need to have these tools taken away because what they are passing off as content is doing more harm than good.
I get it. Empty space is just begging to be filled. A Facebook timeline with no posts looks bad. An Instagram feed with no pictures is not interesting. A Twitter account with no Tweets shows you have nothing to say. All of this tends to make you and your business look uninteresting, boring and not relevant. Every day is a new day, and every day you are told by society, ‘It’s time to be creative, get your art supplies out, and create some art!’ And you do. And, your art sucks too!
So, you do what most people with no talent and no ability does naturally, you copy what someone you think with talent produces. Mistake! Huuuuuuuge mistake! Copying someone else’s work is so easily uncovered these days, and the very people you are trying to impress with your (or someone else’s) wit, and charm are immediately put off with your now unmasked unoriginality.
This leads us to the next option: commissioning an artist to create art for you. Well, again, there is no natural barrier in place; anyone with a modicum of skill can be hired to fill your social media space with content for you. There has been an explosion of such content services as almost anybody with a social media account can be a content provider. Yes, we are right back to that same old problem I discovered in art class with everybody having unrestricted access to art supplies…there are skill levels of all sorts. I’ve seen kids as young as nine years old with their own product endorsement blog earning six figures a year for their opinion of toys. Recently I was watching a business broadcast channel where they were interviewing a woman in her very early twenties who was charging $10,000 to write one blog post. $10,000! With coin like that available of course anyone would be attracted to the vast sums of easy money that can be earned from the vast pool of folks seeking to look good, interesting and relevant online.
With no formal requirements of content providers in place, I’m seeing more and more content being produced and posted for content’s sake. Many businesses don’t care what the content is about, just fill the space.
Filling space is just filling space. It’s not informative. It’s not educational. It’s not influential. And certainly, it’s not YOU, which brings me to another lesson I learned in Choral class: ‘Sing in your own voice!’
All of us have a voice. It’s up to each and every one of us to discover what that voice is. You, your brand, your uniqueness is vital if you want to stand out from the crowd and get paid what you are worth. Let’s face it, you, your business, and your services are unique, unlike any others out there, odds are, you just are not aware of it right now. Sure, we all provide a similar service, restoring clothes to a like new condition at a fair and reasonable price, but how each of us accomplishes this task is unique and different, your unique voice. You may be thinking: ‘But I don’t know how to sing’. Singing, like dry cleaning, is subjective. While we could get into arguing the technical aspects, I’d rather demonstrate that even not being able to sing, can be an art form. Check out this video of a Finnish ‘Shouting’ choir: http://www.drycleanersuniversity.com/tinyurl/3o
There are more significant changes coming to Facebook very soon. One of the big changes will be an update to Facebook’s algorithm where unoriginal content may face reductions in reach, Soon the days of content providers producing one size fits all content may be gone. Duplicate content could become completely useless. Content provision companies may have to create custom content for each client they have, which will thin the herd dramatically. We cleaners just may be forced to become unique, just like everyone else is.