Sharing is caring or so we are told but when does sharing become careless or when do you get rewarded for investing time in the content you are sharing?
Let's tackle the general mood around social media channels today. Social media giant, Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has over 2.9 billions users worldwide. However, it has become synonymous with the older generation as more of the Gen Z population turn their attention to interactive, motion-led platforms like TikTok and Snapchat. Instagram is performing better as everybody needs to share their selfies someplace. It quietly surpassed 2 billion users per month at the end of last year. CNBC reports that Meta owns three of the biggest social applications on Facebook (now Meta), Instagram and WhatsApp.
As these companies scale they become increasingly focused on revenue generation which either leads to users getting bombarded with ads or influencers choking us with irrelevant content that eventually becomes so annoying we need to digitally detox.
What began with a promise to keep us connected has ended up being a connection with the irritating brands we want to run away from.
Regular feeds with the selfies of friends, celebrities, enemies and even brands keeps it entertaining for a short time. However, how much are you paid for the hours you spend on these platforms each week? Oh sorry, you are paying them with several mini ads to push, promote and pull users to your content.
This is both genius in terms of marketing and soul-destroying for anyone advocating for a fairer more equal society. The gender equality issues that companies are faced with today are just the tipping point of what's coming down the track if these crazy unequal, algorithm-led platforms to continue to segment people according to their likes, dislikes and engagement metrics.
Now, I am not saying that the collection of this data is a bad thing. In fact, it is going to happen anyway, whether through government agencies, companies or individuals. However, more autonomy and responsibility placed in the hands of the users give the platforms more agency in the long run.
There are some examples of this in the Web3 ecosystem today.
Nurturing creators to provide quality content
Founder of Waivlength, Fiachra Ward, is focused on building a creator first future,
“Waivlength is a social media platform in development that aims to lead the new age of social media. The ultimate goal is to create a safer, more autonomous and more user-centric space to connect the next generation of the internet. Unique features which make this possible include sizeable financial rewards for its users, wholescale verification, decentralized elements to improve privacy and data security, novel gamified features and its social consensus protocol,” says Ward.
For Ward, the quality of content is diluted when the top creators use social media as their main revenue stream as they start to put limits on the content that they are willing to share for public consumption.
“Top creators who need to earn from their work are becoming less willing to share their content on mainstream channels that offer no financial return. This means the content we see on Facebook and Twitter is likely to continue to wane in quality.
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“Content creators with large followings are forced to look externally for ways of monetizing their work. This often means conforming to existing consumerism strategies of personally endorsing or advertising products. Oftentimes, contrary to their ideals, creators are forced to sell out on part of their identity in order to earn,” continues Ward.
One of the premier social platforms in the Polkadot ecosystem has stressed the need for a decentralized approach to social networking since the early stages of development. Subsocial founder, Alex Simon, truly believes in putting the power in the hands of creators. “We are focused on giving…”
Subsocial works with dApp developers and content creators to improve monetization, develop content discovery engines and offer white-label solutions for decentralized social media hubs.
In a recent article with CoinCodex Simon explained that “Decentralized social networks allow for censorship-resistance while still having moderation features. For example, on Subsocial, all content is available on any dApp built on top of the platform, but dApps don't have to show it all.”
Access unlocks global ingenuity
For DeSo, a new layer-1 decentralized social blockchain, the issue is how to unlock the world’s potential and move on from the old, centralized way of developing social apps.
"You have five companies that virtually control everything we see and do online. And we're over here trying to decide which billionaire we want to censor us,” explains Nadar Al-Naji, Head of the DeSo Foundation.
For Al-Naji, "The solution to centralization in the financial system wasn't to put Warren Buffett in charge of the money. It was to use technology, namely bitcoin, to completely overhaul it and decentralize it. The same overhaul is needed in social and we think that blockchain is the answer there too. "
He rightly recounts that Facebook and Twitter began as open networks but in a “centralized world, pre-blockchain, this wasn’t very monetizable.”
DeSo is on an ambitious mission to scale decentralized social applications to 1 billion users.
"It costs $80 to store a 200-character post on Ethereum. It costs 25 cents to a dollar on Solana, Avalanche, and Polygon. That's not low enough to compete at scale with Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. But if we could, then we could really change things. We could actually make it so that you can own your content like you own your bitcoin,” says Al-Naji.
"When you decentralize something, you actually unlock the ingenuity of everybody all over the world rather than a small group of people running a top-down or centralized organization. Just to give you an example, when you got Ethereum going and you let anybody build on top of that open financial platform, you got more innovation and DeFi in two years than probably the last 50 years in finance."
A roadmap for the engage-to-earn creators
Now that there is a clear appetite from communities, individuals and brands to engage with new digital platforms, it will be the projects’ role to communicate their features as effectively as possible to the end-user. A report by Data Reportal found that the number of people who own cryptocurrencies has increased by 37.8% in the last 12 months. The same report notes that social media users are continuing to grow worldwide with 4.62 billion reported in January 2022.
If monetizing social media via SoFi could be a potential future income stream for more creators, the question becomes more about where the audience will be to consume this content flows? For now, the NFT marketplaces, communities and hundreds of platforms being developed are only tipping the iceberg when it comes to the adoption of DeFi services.