Thursday, December 18, 2014

Content providers are the rare bunch

A lot of times now I tell myself we're in the primitive days of the web, which makes me feel better. Lots of lessons are being learned, like who could forget the notion that NO ONE would pay for music any more now that digital copying had arrived? The talk then was that music artists should just give up and make their money from other means which lead to the idea of the 360 deal.

And the people saying that paying for music would go away were quite serious. And part of the primitive web beginnings.

I think some people just like the idea of everything being free because they don't provide content. And I think as time goes on, it will become clear that content providers are rare.

That was a point I tried to make to Twitter, when I gave them some advice. Whether they took it or not isn't a concern of mine as I can give advice here as it's my blog.

But I'm going to use the current growth of Instagram to try and make the point stick.

And I am on Instagram where I have 13 posts, 17 followers and I'm following 27.

Yet that account, considering hits I get from elsewhere, probably has viewers from over 50 countries. I wonder if Instagram puzzles why.

Starting the account was about having a place to put certain types of photos where I expect there will be more later, while there are some there now, like bumping into a star WNBA player.

Here's a photo from it:

A photo posted by James Harris (@jstevh) on

And am quite happy with the account, and gratified that Instagram doesn't bug me the way Twitter does.

They don't suggest users that I've noticed. If they do and I missed it, sorry. They don't ask for access to my email so they can find more people to try and join my network. Does Twitter do that or am I mixing them up with LinkedIn?

Actually Instagram hasn't bugged me at all as far as I've noticed, and yet Twitter might notice the company is still growing users! What gives?

Gasp. Could it be that techniques Twitter is using might do little to grow their user base and more to irritate their current users?

Why can't I turn off suggested users? Or limit its frequency? Why does Twitter keep trying to force Twitter accounts on me?

Those could just be personal gripes, ok, those ARE personal gripes, but I can compare across social media companies, and it's not like they all do it, though most do. Why not give loyal users a little more control?

Not currently posting photos on Instagram means I'm mostly looking at the photos of others which I tend to do daily. And I'm enjoying it too! Down the line I'm sure I'll be taking my own pictures again, but right now I'm not producing content but instead am enjoying the content provided by others.

The next wave through social media will be accepting that most people do not provide content.

And even when they do they do so rarely, while a few people provide the bulk of the content, and fewer still provide the highest quality content that draws the greatest attention from others.

And YouTube has these principles accepted while it has other problems.

So yeah, in my earlier advice to Twitter I brought up YouTube and here I talk a lot about Instagram.

But the principles are still the same, and I don't know Instagram stats. And I could be wrong but I doubt it because content is hard. That's why art people go to art schools. It's why singers tend to take singing lessons. After millennia of effort human beings are kind of good at the content thing, so the people who are best at it tend to be dedicated--many having started as small children.

You want to be a pop star someday? Then it helps if you were singing in front of a crowd at the age of 6.

(Though of course there are plenty of exceptions like Danielle Bradbery.)

If you weren't, then you have a LOT of catching up to do, and most people don't bother. Most people don't want to be pop stars. It's so much more fun enjoying the best from the best who have practiced to get there.

But social media companies today act like everyone wants to be--or should want to be--the next big web star, with millions of followers. Do you realize that millions of followers have high expectations?

Why would most people want millions of followers anywhere if they understood the work involved? The standards necessary to be one of the best in the world? You need serious training, effort, and practice, practice, practice.

Can everyone live up to such standards? Nope. Most people won't even try.

As the web matures and social media companies learn hard lessons, then our world will get more efficient, and maybe growing social media companies will be a lot better about how to grow.

James Harris
Post a Comment