Friday, December 16, 2022
Thoughts On Social Media
In the wake of the Night of the Long Knives on Twitter (if you weren't aware, Elon Musk deleted several journalists from the website), I have been wondering whether building a presence on social media really has the value it has been credited with for the past several years. Last night's episode, if nothing else, highlights how transient social media presence is. Leaving politics aside, I can think of two major issues that complicate "building a brand" (a term I hate). This doesn't apply to casual fun users, but to those who have made it a significant part of their careers.
First is financial. There are rumors that Twitter is currently in financial trouble, and this isn't the first time that has been the case. If a pundit or celebrity goes to a lot of effort to build a presence on a selected website, and then said website goes bankrupt and disappears, all that work is wasted. A big part of the reason social media became so popular is that it's simple, cheap and fast to register. The problem is that those factors influence the audience of the site. "Fickle" would be a good word to use here - a reader that may like you today may block you tomorrow, or simply get bored and leave. Plus, a following does not translate to money. For example, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a huge following on social media yet her recent book did poorly. It appears that few of her followers were willing to buy it.
Second is the proliferation of social media websites. One way for a pundit to hedge their bets is to register on multiple sites, but how well does that really work? The more sites there are, the fewer members each one is likely to have. Is it worth it to spend time on multiple sites rather than investing that time in writing, researching or creating product? Plus those sites are not guaranteed to function well. From what I have read of Mastodon, it is more like a series of fiefdoms than an open site such as Twitter. Each node on Mastodon is run by separate individuals or groups, each of which can block anyone they want. Quite a few recent users have found this out to their dissatisfaction.
I don't have any answers here, but I do think the issues I have mentioned play a large part in keeping analog or "old school" public presence alive. It will be interesting to see what happens in social media over the next few years.