3 Things You Can Do When You’ve Outgrown Your Content Tools
You are likely to experience many growing pains in the course of your social media life. One of the growing pains you’ll hit sooner or later is around tools. You may have many tools you use, some for management and automation, and others for content creation. Today I want to talk about rich media tools. When I say rich media, I mean image, infographic, and video tools. We see clients who are starting a new phase of their content evolution by moving into rich media creation, and others who have been doing it for a while, but are no longer satisfied with what they’re producing. Today I’ll share some signs that indicate you’re outgrowing your rich media content tools, and give you some options for how to deal with it.
Signs you’re outgrowing your content tools.
Typically, organizations that are creating content themselves use tools to help them. There are many great entry level tools out there that provide template for visuals, infographics, and make video creation easier. Those entry level tools are often limited. If you’re not able to create the content you want, or translate your vision effectively, then you’ve probably outgrown your tools. Here are 6 scenarios that might indicate that you’ve outgrown your content tools:
- You’re feel the templates you have to choose from makes your visual content look recycled.
- You try every new entry level tool for visuals and video, but they all disappoint you.
- When you try new tools, you mainly look for templates.
- You online videos with integrated music, sounds, and effects, and you really want that, but can’t do it.
- You have great ideas for visuals and videos, but you always have to scale back your vision to something that your current tools or training can produce.
- For larger marketing campaign events, you’re considering outsourcing the graphics or videos.
So what are your options? You have many, and they don’t always mean radical change.
The creativity tradeoff.
The difference between entry level tools and more advanced tools are rapid development, integration, and the skills required. While many tools allow you to start with a blank canvas, there are often a limited number of assets such as images and icons provided. Your ability to customize may be limited and you end up having to fit your creativity into someone elses box. Piktochart is a great infographic creation tool. They provide some nice templates, and, after a small learning curve, you’re empowered and can create infographics quickly. Adobe Creative Cloud, on the other hand, with Photoshop, Illustrator, and Aftereffects provides nearly unlimited ability to create and edit graphics, and provides a high level of creativity for video. The problem, of course, is you need to have the skill to use them. More than that, with creative assets, you also need talent. You need the right eye to create the best graphics, and understand the interplay between light, shadow, shape, and effect.
So what do you do if you have outgrown your tools? Let’s look at some options.
1: Invest in more advanced tools to make better content.
You can invest in some more robust tools like Adobe Creative Cloud. Take it slow, and keep your approach focused. Start with Photoshop to adjust images, and add effects that make your graphics stand apart. Sometimes simple effects or alterations can make a big difference. You can also add subtle branding to images. Stepping up from that, you use illustrator to create custom shapes for visuals and infographics which can really make your content stand apart.
Just learning to manipulate shapes and graphics that come with Illustrator can open a new world of graphic enhancement options. In addtion, a little time spent with Aftereffects can help you add pop to videos. Tastefulness and subtlety is the key. You can try any of these options for a very small price in terms of software costs. The greater costs are in acquiring the skills to use the tools.
2: Invest in people to make custom content.
The header above is not a suggestion, it’s a rule. If you’re investing in creative software, you need to invest in people who can get the most out of that software. You can do that in different ways:
- Get training for your existing staff. While you absolutely need training on how to use these tools, you also need to make sure those you are training have the creative talent to use them effectively. If they've expressed interest, if they like using creative tools on their off time, or if they've sought out training on their own, it’s a good indicator. Having produced some work that looks like it has potential, is also a good indicator.
- Hire talent that is already trained. There are lots of designers, and graphic artists out there looking for jobs. If you’re serious about stepping up your content game, investing in someone with these skills may save some training expense, and should help you quickly step up your content game.
- Reach out to your local Art Institute. We've had a great relationship with our local art institute for years. It’s a great way to find talent at entry level prices. They are usually young, and less experienced. While they will have the creative skills, they may lack work experience, so you will need to manage them more closely to bring them into your process models. A great way to try out talent from the Art Institute is to offer internships. You get part time help, get to check out their work, and see how well they fit. If you use interns, pay them something, they work hard.
One more tip on hiring creative people, take time to review lots of portfolios before hiring someone. Skills are one thing, talent another, and creative style is a third element. Each artist has their own unique style. Styles range from cartoonish, to powerfully subtle and everything in between. The following for images are meant to represent social media, but the style used for each is very different:
Pick someone whose style works well with your brand. The styles should match and enhance the way your organization likes to market, and the image your organization puts forward (serious, playful, etc.).
Outsourcing is a great option. You create better content, without spinning up additional creative process, buying new software, training people, or hiring new staff. When you outsource, your organization can focus on its core mission. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. You can keep some content creation in-house, and just outsource the things you need help with. In that scenario, you become the creative director, and your vendor will execute. You need to do your homework to find the right vendor, and the right solution to fit your needs and your budget. At CTC, we work with a lot of different budgets. For many clients we produce weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly content pieces that range from infographics, to videos. Our clients like it because the pricing works, they get to see their creative vision realized, we help them make it better and produce higher quality content, faster.
There are a lot of options for raising your content game. How you approach it depends on your budget, how much you want to keep in-house, and your focus. If you’re considering outsourcing, reach out us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll give you a free consultation, and explain how we can help.