FB creative Caitlin Ryan loves the ability to create “Easter eggs” within a story for passionate fans to delve deeper into the narratives

Digital storytelling

Meet Caitlin Ryan, EMEA Regional Creative Director at Facebook and Instagram. We sat down with Caitlin to hear her thoughts around what’s exciting for her in the digital industry right now, what inspires her on a daily basis and what she wish she’d known earlier in her career.

What is your favorite thing about working at Facebook & Instagram?

The pace of change, being close to technology and constantly innovating.

What’s exciting from a creative’s point of view, is that whereas once with broadcast media the process of content creation was quite long, because you were creating a very finished product that a media budget would then take and spread for you, now we have the ability to create in the morning and be on a platform and spreading it by the afternoon as part of the creative process. This means that we can now immediately identify what message is resonating with our audiences and what is not.

I’m interested in people and what makes them excited or interested or emotional and so the ability we have now to see our message in context and get signals immediately is a very exciting and new way of thinking about the creative process.

Given that you work for one of the world's most innovative organisations, what inspires you day to day?

Working for a tech company, the idea that we’re never finished is really interesting to me. Around Facebook, we have a lot of posters saying “1% finished” and that feels incredibly exciting - it’s forward-facing rather than retrospective. We’re always looking forward.

One of my frustrations is the industry’s tendency to “always look back with pride and awe” rather than looking ahead - the future is far more interesting to me.

What excites you most about digital storytelling at the moment?

It is ability for us as creators to be multi-layered. We no longer have just a linear creative process; we’re now able to create “easter eggs” within a story so that passionate fans can go deeper into the narratives that truly engage them. For me, this feels like a new and interesting way for brands to tell stories.

Our webinar is focused on the power of video content via mobile. Can you give us an idea of why you feel like this is such an important topic?

Mobile has completely changed the way we both consume media and how it spreads. The cost to entry has come down which means that the creative process has opened up.

How important is video content in engaging your passionate fans as opposed to attracting a new audience?

It can do both. The context of the content is crucial. Communities are passionate fans. What we’re looking into at the moment is how content can be released onto the platform to attract new audiences and looking for lookalikes of our current fans.

What do you think is the most exciting trend in the digital industry at the moment?

Agility and scale, but my views on this change all the time. A lot of creatives are worried about agility and scale whereas I’m excited by them and the change they bring. We’re currently very focused on IGTV and how we think about and create vertical video but the adoption of this will be fast as we push ourselves to learn fast and then perfect, and then scale.

Can you tell us something you know now that you wish you’d known earlier in your career?

I’ve always been a very “audience first” creative. The reason I came into this industry is because I was interested in people. Back in the day when broadcast media was our medium, understanding what people felt and thought was a long way from the creative process, it was always about what the brand wanted to say, first - and that was very frustrating. But fast forward 15 years and now it is very much about understanding our audience and what makes people want to do things, first.

I wish I’d known, earlier in my career, that this was going to happen because I spent a lot of time feeling annoyed by the lack of connection between the content, the audience and the medium.

Do you have a pet hate buzzword?

I’m a writer, I like language. I’m interested in the words that merge, emerge and become buzzwords. I worry we’ve become quite navel-gazing and obsessed with who’s right and who’s wrong, and what buzzwords should be used, and what buzzwords shouldn’t. This takes up far too much of our time.

The industry has got so down on itself in recent years, if everyone could take a deep breath and instead of apportioning blame, take a look at what the potential of creating is in this new world, we’d make a lot of traction and go further faster.

The industry has got so down on itself in recent years, if everyone could take a deep breath and instead of apportioning blame, take a look at what the potential of creating is in this new world, we’d make a lot of traction and go further faster.

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