As a general rule of thumb, I try not to criticize without offering solutions. So, consider yesterday my criticism and today my solution.
If social media isn't dead, it's dying. Not so much social media as a whole but social media as we know it today.
My prediction is that over the next 3-5 years, engagement on TikTok will dwarf that of Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Linkedin.
Currently, there are 1 billion active users on TikTok. If this were a country, it'd be the third largest on the planet by population density; and because countries come with their own unique economies, TikTok certainly will too.
Brands are already flooding the platform with sponsorship dollars ready to throw at creators. From the outside looking in, TikTok appears to be a screaming success. It just might be... if it manages to not make the same mistakes every other platform has made before it.
So far, every single social media platform that has lived and died has championed brands over creators. The creators give the platforms their culture. The users love it. The brands show up with fat checks. The top 1% of creators get filthy fucking rich. The getting is good for a while until the users get fed up with the ads and sponsored posts. The engagement suddenly drops. The remaining 99% of creators walk away with nothing. The users walk away with their time wasted. The brands walk their way to the bank, laughing like hyenas.
I criticized Elon Musk's hostile takeover of Twitter and how ham-fisted he's handled the entire thing in yesterday's piece but I've got to applaud the guy for *attempting* to give the power back to the users.
I highly doubt he will pull it off but I respect the tenacity.
As social media platforms are dropping like flies, it begs the following question...
Could the largest social media platform to ever exist rise from their ashes?
However, while the world is in desperate need of Twitter 2.0 and Instagram 2.0, I'm concerned that humanity will get tired of the joke before these new platforms are ready to step up to the mic.
What's more likely is that social media will be the catalyst for community.
If social media has taught us anything, it's that 10 close relationships are of much greater value––emotionally, mentally, spiritually and even financially––than 1,000 acquaintances.
Naval Ravikant, the entrepreneur-philosopher, has a fascinating quote that sums up this value beautifully...
All the benefits in life come from compound interest: relationships, money, habits, anything of importance.
Compound interest is something these platforms have failed to deliver.
The users and creators are getting sensationally fucked but we all keep showing up for the same reason that the chain-smoking gambler keeps pulling the lever on the slot machine.
Every so often we hit it big, a tweet goes viral, a post gets a shit ton of likes, somebody notable notices us and we're good for pulling the lever another 1,000x.
Something I'm reflecting on going into this next year is how I can step away from the slot machine and double down on truer, deeper human connections.
I'm wrestling with some pretty big questions. How much in new business would this decision cost me? How many new readers would I be leaving on the table? How will I remain... relevant?
Some of these concerns are genuine. New business means money and I need money to survive. But, relevance is my ego throwing a tantrum in my chest. Relevance is my addiction to the likes and the retweets and the comments that validate my existence.
If writers like Shel Silverstein and artists like Andy Warhol were able to support themselves with their work and their relationships and their communities, why do I feel that my "big break" is going to come by garnering the attention of strangers?
This brings me back to the question I posed in yesterday's piece...
Why is it that it feels harder than ever before to get people's attention?
The best answer I've been able to scrape together is that everybody is too busy getting people's attention.
Succeeding over the next couple of decades will be less about relevance and more about depth. This doesn't mean there isn't a place in our lives for broadcasting to the masses but it means that we can no longer hang our hats on our loudspeakers.
But, I digress.
By Cole Schafer.
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