(Originally published on 4/28/2014)
This one is a wake-up call, one to contemplate how we use social media and publishing strategies.
Actually when Magazines began with subscription models back, somewhere in the last century (please correct me if I´m wrong), some television stations decided to do the same and ultimately I believe that is the reason why we have subscriber-based social media networks now, where every person can get subscribers.
This is a long story short.
Sure, there are differences between a magazine a television station and you.
But how big is the difference if the currency is attention time?
I think we live in times where there is no big difference anymore between a premium TV broadcasting show and your content on facebook. What makes the difference is the added value and experience from a user. When TV is boring (even paid) and a facebook post made your day – the latter won the contest and future decisions will be made upon that realisation. The only thing that could change that fact to a satisfactory degree would be a movie you´d like to see on demand.
Once a freelancer can understand that the knowledge we have available today allows us to benefit from years of experiene and fails of others long before us, this is a huge advantage.
For example, when the first photographers established their medium they´d probably had not as much fans as anyone can have today by posting photos of cute kitten to facebook.
Consider this, how did our landscape looked some 20 years ago? If you are older than 20 years you´ll remember the joy of waiting for the day in the week when your favorite magazine came to the kiosk or that day when you walk into the video rental store to get that new action flick or that bookstore across the street to check for intriguing offers.
Now we don´t do these regular walks anymore, enjoy a book or audiobook on the commute to work and check our updates from friends on fb and twitter.
The landscape has changed and it is not worse or better, it is just different.
A whole society uses the internet for a replacement of television and magazines, book stores and video rentals, so how is it possible to thrive in such a society and to make a living of it?
Tough question, but not unsolvable.
First I want to put the pros and cons in a list, to evaluate the status quo.
Pro internet market:
- Huge audience
- Faster ways of finding a target audience (and be found)
- growing market
- established ways of getting and bind new clients
- Arguably better for the environment
- opportunity through globalisation
- much white noise, hard to get noticed
- most places are too crowded for new brands, established even have hard times
- lots of job losses (regionally through globalisation)
- established brands struggle or have to change their business to withstand hard times
- more “difficult waste” through higher sales of ebook readers, smartphones and tablets
The downside of this recent development are increased sales of ebook-readers and tablets. In my opinion this increase can save some trees if the market keeps on developing at the same pace, but a different material as replacement for plastic is in order. Otherwise the increase in toxic waste and difficult waste from not renewable raw materials will exponentially keep on having a negative impact on our climatic development.
OK, let´s imagine humans are able to learn and use new materials from mushrooms to replace plastic in the future, how am I able to compete with thousands of other artists and freelancers in the already crowded market?
- Subscriber or fans (on pages) are just numbers unless they interact with you. This means, these numbers can be 10k or 500k, but due to facebooks algorythms only 1%-2% are able to see your posts. So buying more audience in terms of buying fans or advertising on fb actually does not help, it increases only the numbers, and not magically the level of interaction.
- Interaction is the key. You have to write engaging content, share only interesting things and don´t spam.This way it will probably take longer to get a bigger following, but in the end interactions are a lot more authentic and the level of engagement in terms of likes, comments and shares is significant higher.
- Bigger is not always better. With great powers comes great responsibility. The pressure big companies have when they´ve made a mistake was easy to play down some 20 years ago. In the age of facebook, any dilemma can become a big companies worst nightmare, for example Greenpeace against Nestle is definitely a priceless example on how much costs could have been cut with the right decisions. The power of the users combined can have a big impact, the smaller the waves, the more secure for smaller businesses in the beginning, where many decisions might be wrong due to a lack of money, self esteem, whatsoever.
- Making good decisions will take time and self awareness. Having a tribe or community in your back makes it easier to learn from others and to gain reasonable feedback.
- Involving your fans and followers and even your subscribers to your development, or your way on your very personal journey makes others happy as well. No one wants a finished product – we are all heading back towards a do-culture and from a have-it-done- culture, but it takes time.
- When making-of´s in Blu Ray´s and DVD Boxes are longer than the actual movie, you know something has changed in the market. Not only in the consumer, but in the makers, because they understood that their consumers want to be part of something – so give them a purpose, give them a reason to live!
- That is actually the only valid reason why crowdfunding works today; people want to be special and they want to be involved, they like to spend premium money on something that not everyone can have – and THAT is an opportunity. An opportunity for artists and freelancers to deliver something special. Something that not everyone can have -and not being able to copy.
- Regardless if your product is music, a sculpture or a digital file, what you do with your subscriber is important, so treat everyone you meet with respect and an open heart and you should never need to worry about your future.