These are the cheap coke-bumps of social media antics that both businesses and designers engage in and like any cheap high in this world it’s exhilarating for a short while but horrifically toxic and cringe inducing over time. Tea-towel wisdom has become such a plague on social platforms that it’s getting harder to find businesses that haven’t traded in their own voices to simply coast on words of dead poets and armchair philosophers in the pursuit of ‘like’ currency. Welcome to ‘Fauxtivationals’.
What’s a Fauxtivational?
Fauxtivationals (Pronounced: FO-TAH-VAYSHUN-UL ) are social postings using inspirational quotes and buzzword salad in conjunction with vibey imagery all in the shallow pursuit to gain followers and establish a brand ‘voice’. Un-shockingly there are thousands of businesses using this polluted tactic for promoting their product. Need proof? Just go here, I’ll wait.
I don’t think this is how Charles Bukowski envisioned some of his best literary works being used but hey, I get it. We all got shit to sell and followers to pull in so eat it Charlie!
Isn’t the internet ambiguous enough? Let’s put who we really are out there. If you are are using Fauxtivationals to build a following it’s time to stop and get down to establishing your real voice that real people can connect with.
Fauxtivational posts aren’t helping your business. They only beg the audience:
"Please don’t forget me today!"
It’s Fool’s Gold
As mentioned the fauxtivational’s sole purpose is follower currency. I can even see why so many businesses use them as they do work to an extent. They’re extremely easy to make and you can post them for the most part instantly without having to come up with any original or carefully constructed content for your channels. This tactic is vapid, tasteless, and works much like a snake eating it’s own tail because the fauxtivational is instantly relatable to virtually everyone.
So relatable even they’re pretty much bulletproof as social postings go. It’s borderline personally combative to challenge them and claim that it isn’t good content to anyone using them. After all, who am I to question these uplifting quotes on the struggles and hardships you deal with as a business owner? So what if you use them for your products and an aid to find your brand’s voice? What am I, some kind of heartless monster? No (maybe).
Remember that great inspirational quote you saw someone using on a filtered pic of them sketching out new ideas? Everyone already relates to that. Every person in the world could say “Hey, I’ve felt that way! I’ve exercised ideas too!” and that’s what makes this whole approach empty. It’s fishing with dynamite. Nobody is really buying because it’s fool’s gold.
Humanity & Humility
I’m hesitant to admit this but more than half of the work we get here at Forefathers comes from our Short Stories. We’ve had countless clients tell us the thing that eventually sold them on us as a design studio more than our work was our outwardly candid writing.
I’m not even going to pretend like I knew what I was doing when I started writing. My only goal was to let people into our weird little world in this industry and show our evolution as a tight knit design team without a false veneer. The internet is a platform where anyone can easily boast and false posture about anything so it was critical for us to just talk like people throughout our channels.
So if we’ve had success with being candid in our own words on our business practices why are there so many businesses using the silver tongues of ancient novelists to align themselves with a customer base?
Yes, building a business with loyal followers is a slow burn but you don’t need a novelist’s wit or vocabulary to do it. Speak sincerely and directly to your crowd. Try a matter of fact approach and for God’s sake keep it brief. We’re all just friends hanging out at a bar, please don’t ruin everyone’s buzz with a 12 minute karaoke deep cut.
You Don’t Gotta Lie to Kick It
Hey, remember not knowing exactly what to say in every moment? Good times right? Why do any of us feel an incessant need to be full of inspirational wisdom we can pass down? Does your client or business really benefit from that? Highly doubtful zen master.
Is it so damning to admit as designers and entrepreneurs we only know how to do a handful of things extremely well? Isn’t that why most of us build teams? Maybe we could all post the process of what we’re learning as it happens instead of a quick summation of the feel-goods to pass around for a quick hit. Cheapening other’s earned wisdom is no way to guide you through your own career challenges and social growth so yes you’re going to have to do the dirty work yourself and then maybe say something about it.
Not knowing isn’t a reflection of who you are as a person or your business so maybe let’s openly shrug a little more often? Embrace it. Show your vulnerability free of others hyper-positive expectations because people would rather read that anyway. Wouldn’t you?