Wednesday, March 09, 2016

More an audience than followers

Tech people can do interesting things, and qualify as one myself and have seen lots of examples, and maybe calling people "followers" on social media will go down in history as one of the most eventful mistakes ever made by them. People on social media like Twitter or Instagram don't behave like followers, say of some leader, but am increasingly certain, instead like an audience.

Which means you can have millions of people "following" on some social media account who simply do nothing when told by the account holder, which is so cool. So many examples of it, which I think shows the power of a word! You see "follower" and think, hey can tell them what to do! And audience members are like, you can try, and we can ignore you.

Like in Madison Square Garden before a sold out audience how many performers think now would be the time to hawk some obscure personal project? Or push a religion?

Some do am sure. Most I'm also certain, do not. If any break up the flow of entertainment bad enough, an audience can make them regret it.

And am NOT against people with huge social media accounts using them however they like, but think it worth noting why I believe they can fail miserably with attempts at using them as if they have followers instead of an audience.

If you've built an audience anywhere by doing a certain thing, then don't be surprised if they are uninterested if you throw something else at them, especially out of the blue. Like if you're a dancer, and decide to stop the dance to talk to people about important politics, don't expect them necessarily to cheer. Some people can pull that off though, should note.

But of course if you give your audience what they want? Then why wouldn't they cheer you, and maybe even, if you're putting it out there, buy related merchandise, say like people at a concert do?

And audiences can happily follow instructions, like doing the wave at a ballpark. But it's not like being ordered around by a leader. It's often about fun. Or could be about instruction like at a seminar.

So what would recent web history look like if Twitter had said "audience"? At least Facebook sticks with Likes. Which are probably closer to the reality.

Kind of thing that fascinates me as ideas to ponder. But yeah, now when I see Twitter account numbers, I see those as potential audience counts, and NOT as followers. And I say potential audience as lots of people clearly often are not even paying attention. The audience count perspective gives more like a rough estimate of how many MIGHT pay attention if that performer gave them what they want. Like you can play Madison Square Garden, but can you fill it?

Many of those "followers" may not even really like that person, if is a person, but DO like say the entertainment value, just like if at some entertainment venue.

Am I right? Time will tell. Am sure there will keep being people or entities as well like businesses that try to treat that audience as if actual followers, and can just see what happens.

James Harris
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