A Metafree Year in Review
How an experiment in cutting ties contributed to our strongest year yet
Why are we here? When we asked ourselves that question, it wasn’t out of existential pandemic-induced dread but out of plain, old-fashioned curiosity.
Facebook and Instagram, the “here” in this scenario, were platforms we’d participated on since the inception of our studio because, well, weren’t we supposed to?
As a business, especially a creative one, it’s where we were meant to showcase our design chops, grow our brand, connect with our community, generate new business, and show people who we really are. Right?
Throughout the years, as a small independent studio we spent valuable hours creating for and experimenting with these platforms. We learned a lot, developing content we certainly were proud of. But at what cost? Or perhaps more interestingly, for what value?
Yes, to a degree you can measure how much impact your social game has on your business with the same KPIs that it seems everyone uses, but how can you really measure success without a good old A/B test. We’ve had years of A’s, in 2022 it was time for a B.
“We’re going on a learning journey,” we wrote, “and you are all invited.” With that, we stepped back from Instagram and Facebook with an invitation: Not to join our pause on participating with these platforms, but to follow us as we shifted our attention elsewhere.
We value community and have dedicated ourselves to working with organizations who do the same. We wanted to take a year to explore how we could better prioritize community building over content creation, while having the clarity and time to objectively observe how these platforms continued to grow and evolve. And that’s exactly what we did.
January 11th, 2022 was the last time we posted anything on Instagram or Facebook. And what a year it’s been.
Here’s what didn’t happen:
· we didn’t lose business (in fact, quite the opposite)
· we didn’t lose client trust (we heard zero criticism about the decision from our wonderful client roster and, better yet, worked on several social strategies for them)
· we didn’t lose followers (we gained them)
Here’s what did:
· we explored Web3 and created identities for two of the biggest brands in that space
· we found community, a bountiful source of prospective work and meaningful engagement on LinkedIn
· we gave our team room to breathe and focus on client work and other internal projects (like commissioning Ukranian designers to create posters about the war that ended up at the Met, and designing our own poster as a call to action and ode to our hometown, New York City.)
· we invested in making noise for music education, working with S’Cool Sounds and Mama Foundation to ensure young people had access to all that music has to offer
· we created our own new platform AfterThought as means of investing in a consequential future for creativity through gatherings that explore the issues impacting creative life and work
As the year comes to a close, we took a step back and asked ourselves, what should 2023 look like? Do we continue doing what we’ve been doing this past year? Was our Meta sabbatical just long enough for us to contribute to the platform again? And if so, for what purpose?
Here’s what we decided:
We’re jumping back into content creation for social media, but on our own terms. In the spirit of AfterThought, we’re reimagining how these platforms are traditionally used, and instead of leveraging them to generate awareness and clout, we’ll be using Instagram as a tool for contribution.
How? We’re busy building out a new content studio where, with the young design community in mind, the focus will be developing knowledge-sharing resources, inspiration and more. We won’t be on the ‘gram bragging about our latest work (for that, go to our website; it’s terrific), but rather sharing our knowledge and perspective to hopefully influence the future of design for the better. We’re in an industry controlled by long-established gatekeepers who for years have shaped and held the keys to the pathways into design. We plan to change that by continuing to open our doors, both IRL and virtually, to help young creative people better understand how and why they can and should design their careers in their own unique ways.
We’re ready for another experiment. Hope you’ll join us once more. See you in 2023!
This post was written by Dylan Stiga. ThoughtMatter is a creative branding, design and strategy studio in New York City’s Flatiron District. Find us on Twitter.