Our data is worth a lot of money to social media companies. It was worth $40 billion to Facebook alone in 2017. Lately, there has been a lot of focus on the cavalier attitude social media companies take towards securing and sharing the user data they collect. The focus is warranted.
However, let’s not forget that social media needs content providers to keep the news feeds and timelines full, and provide places to show those $40 billion worth of ads. Without original content produced by garden-variety users, powerful influencers, and news organizations, there would not be as many users glued to social media. Less users = less revenue.
You would think this would create a wonderful partnership between social media and content providers but the opposite is true. Social media should encourage the production of original content which attracts a lot of users to watch ads, right? Unfortunately, it is not that easy.
Social media companies have become revenue junkies that are willing to burn out their most prolific users just to squeeze as much revenue out of them as possible before casting them aside.
It’s not Personal, it’s Business
Social Media is not about being social, it is about making money. If you keep this in mind it all becomes clear in a sick and twisted logical kind of way. The larger the audience, the more prolific the access to user targeting algorithms, the more revenue the social media companies make.
The problems is that user data is not enough, you need lots of traffic between users to spread the ads around. For this, you need content. Social media influencers like Lily Singh and PewDiePie, who have almost 100 million social media users following them on a regular basis, are in a constant battle to produce compelling original content that not only attracts more users but also conforms to the ever changing needs of the algorithms to increase traffic.
It is not about what content you post but how it is posted that drives maximum value. Social media users who build up an audience based on original content that attracts followers and advertisers can make a good living. And they should because they are creating compelling original content that is attracting a large audience.
This Business is Personal
Influencers like Singh and PewDiePie are celebrities in their own right because of their creative efforts. But the promise of celebrity is how they get you. Like any garden variety drug dealer, social media will make you a revenue junkie just like they are and drive you to the brink of mental breakdown in an effort to keep the money coming in.
Singh and PewdiePie get addicted to the lifestyle that ad-based revenue affords them. Once they become comfortable, social media changes the rules and makes that lifestyle harder and harder to maintain.
Imagine if your boss walked into the office today and told you she was changing your job and you now had to work 12 hours a day to make the same salary. Or what if they said you had to work from midnight until 8AM instead of 9 to 5? How would you react? Would you object and start looking for another job? Maybe you would call a lawyer and sue your boss for constructive dismissal?
Social Media content makers like Singh and PewDiePie are not employees nor are they part of a union so they have no recourse against Social Media companies when they change the rules.
There must be a better way
For this reason, they deserve a better place to share their content when and how they please. After all, it is their content and their personality that is attracting the followers and facilitating the advertising revenue. So why not empower them to be creative and give them the ability to generate revenue as they see fit?
It would be a lot easier and a lot more logical for content creators to monetize their creations with willing subscribers and advertising partners directly rather than being beholden to an algorithm controlled by a revenue junkie!