Hello there small business owner and/or creative independent person. I know your pain... I too run my own business and have dealt with many years of soul crushing torture trying to gain traction on social media and found it to be complex, endlessly frustrating, and bewildering. I found better business success when I realized that focusing on traditional business advice (e.g. solid products and services, customer relationship management, thoughtful promotion, etc...) was not enough to address the modern business world.
The modern business world is mostly online, virtual, and very visual. The modern business world is heavily controlled now by perception rather than by quality BECAUSE of the influence of the Internet on modern business. In the past you'd have a physical store or office with a sign, placed hopefully on a street with lots of foot traffic. Once your business grew in profit, you'd likely choose to run ads in popular newspapers, and at a later stage you'd run TV and radio ads... The model scaled according to your success, that's also why we have many iconic businesses that have endured over time.
In our world now, mainly because of the Internet and growingly because of Social Media's influence, small businesses and creators not only compete for public attention with each other, they also compete with large companies that have employees and financial resources that could crush them like a bug if they ever went against the narrative. This playing field is actually drawn on the side of a steep hill that we rarely discuss, and It's an interesting and somewhat unsustainably bad scenario for fostering success, that grinds small businesses to dust, often while rewarding the most popular and wealthy, out of sheer convenience and prominent placement. Now just to get eyes on the unique and creative products and services your company offers, your posts compete against endlessly overproduced videos that your competitors can create with million dollar budgets and marketing/design teams, and also against a video of a frog dressed like a cowboy driving in a toy car... It's really that ridiculous... Seriously... Because there is only one main "for you" page on most modern social media apps and sites. This current model is unsustainable for success, it really is, most of us just heve'nt realized this yet.
Here on CircuitBored.Com there are lots of posts laced with topics concerning corporate practices that frustrate users and cause wasted time, effort and money. In recent years, millions have felt the deep worry and economic pressure of uncertainty that the pandemic, among many other things, has created for all of us in business within just the past few years. Protecting real opportunity is crucial to maintaining stability in our world, and to creating a solid future. When opportunity is limited, even others who are successful face serious consequences, it's important that we understand that as a basis for creating a meaningful discussion, so this presents a new opportunity for positive change, not just a rant or complaint.
Opportunity appears to be shrinking on the Internet for small business and creators as they struggle in silence because of the sheer volume of people posting. As large companies with millions and billions of dollars control the landscape and often crush, acquire, contract, and consume their competition with ease behind the curtains, the items that trend in public often hide the fact that small businesses and creators are not making money, nor growing significantly, based on the expense of massive amounts of their effort placed into social media.
Starting and operating a small business from scratch in this day and time seems insurmountable. Many creators start with energy and optimism but burn out as time passes, often feeling like social media marketing is now their biggest expense of time and money... You're not crazy, we're spending too much time on social media sites, and it's taking away focus on developing vital ideas and conversations and more innovative and meaningful business products and services. Worst of all, the failed expense in time greatly distracts us from our overall ability to succeed, save time, and enjoy life goals as individuals, and mostly presents us with examples of people faking it.
Normally the competitive landscape of business is hard enough to navigate as a small company without lots of employees and capital. Things get a lot worse when we consider the primary resource we once had for equitable promotion and real entertainment has also now changed dramatically. Social media is no longer focused on being social... Perhaps a name change is due... To Profit Control Platforms (PCP)... Because it is addictive, often makes people act in crazy and offensive ways, and can easily make people lose all their money or land in jail... *cough*.
As the Internet developed in the early 90s, America Online transitioned from being a simplified Internet Service provider to a major Internet portal... Even back then, people became quite worried that the growing Internet would become a simplified monopoly-controlled hub owned by the company. Many small businesses jumped to be featured within AOL because there was great promises for leads and sales under their "virtual canopy", that service users were funneled into every time they logged in... Heck, back then if you were on AOL, just escaping that canopy meant you were a knowledgeable "computer hacker" in spirit, and that you broke free of the walled garden to see everything else the real Internet had to offer, including cheaper Internet services other than AOL.
The spirit of putting up walls has not ended on the Internet, actually it is still very much alive and popular as a practice, but now implemented with mobile apps, within online communities, and especially within social media communities.
Have you noticed lately how no one is really mentioning their brand or linking to their web site on social media posts any more? The answer is because it will cause algorithms to not show the post unless, of course, the poster pays the platform to "promote" it. It's likely a new trend of non-transparent gatekeeping that platforms do as a consequence of implementing paid advertising that users often learn about after months and years of struggling to be visible on social platforms that originally promised free organic growth.... It's a bait and switch tactic that has grown fast in popularity on almost every major social media platform in the past few years since the pandemic started, and it greatly increases the cost of running an independent business while dramatically controlling the access to audiences that independent businesses can reach by using social media. If you see wildly popular posts now, there's a good chance that they were sponsored to get to that point, and by sponsored, I mean promoted... Often with lots of money.
If you're like me, you have a business or service to promote, you even may have a resume to promote in the process of finding a new job. All of this is affected by where you post, and success is dictated by a wildly varying set of rules and procedures you need to follow to gain proper visibility. The companies that put walls around their communities, especially lately, have realized that even though most of these communities are already selling advertising and services embedded into your content, they can also increase their profit by charging you to increase your visibility on their platforms.
This move in charging individuals and small business to gain visibility has become almost a standard practice across many social communities that once guaranteed free and equal visibility. The underlying conflict with this change is that now it drives those very same platforms to provide visibility as a metered and carefully governed service -- In essence, if you don't pay, very few to little people see anything new that you post if it drives people to your brand. On the other hand, it also creates a huge conflict of interest and integrity for large online platforms, because it skews the most visibility towards those who pay the most and towards content that doesn't drive opportunity, so now, visibility is based on financial/income characteristics of each platform user, and no longer equal by nature as a result.
As the Internet grows, it's expected that innovation will grow, but in many ways lately, I've observed that IT innovation has turned away from new ways of becoming more productive and more highly functional for users towards business and service monopolization, polarization, engineered dependency on products, and to creating an illusion of online success on social media. As cars and houses can be rented, even "squatted" in, and anyone can wear a suit for a TikTok video and say they're a self made millionaire, it's time to get skeptical about every piece of advice we encounter online.
Now full circle to the main premise of this post... We've been seeing more and more violent and triggering things online every day, it's rather crazy how this type of content immediately shows up when something terrible happens in our real world. Somehow violent, "dis-informative", low-effort, and triggering things trend far more often now on Social Media than far more desirable and useful content things. This itself is an end result and a trademark of a "pay-for-visibility" system being implemented. A lot of the content we see now on sites like Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram is in actuality "low-key promoted" content.
The main issue with unlabeled promoted content now is that it's not clearly labeled as such, though it probably always should be to preserve accuracy and transparency. If promoted content was always properly labeled, it would be a lot harder to explain why spammy, hateful, violent, or low effort content trended frequently on certain platforms-- If paid promotional content isn't marked and attributed as paid promotion, ghost accounts that fund content theft, abuse, scams, disinformation and worse schemes frequently get away with promoting harmful posts anonymously, and many platforms quietly collect the money without accountability.
Many studies have shown that triggering content keeps users engaged on platforms. This has long provided an avenue for platforms to keep users logged in, and engaged with topics that platforms want to gain ad revenue from. E.g.... Even if you start an account on sites like Twitter for knitting sweaters and only follow other knitting accounts, it's almost impossible to not eventually come across political content and other content that is completely unrelated to your work, because otherwise you might just post and read Twitter for a much shorter time. This is why modern social media accounts we use most often show few (and quite simplified/malfunctioning/hobbled) controls for searching and choosing content and few options for blocking undesired topics, words, and other accounts.
As a content creator, you're also more likely to get censored/muted/shadowbanned on social media for promoting your own business than for posting triggering content if you don't pay to promote your posts, because you don't generate enough profit for the platform... This makes you technically their employee without pay, and actually encourages you to pay the platform. It's a troubling scheme, that somehow grew into a popular practice because of the illusion of success that social media influencers (who are often faking success) regularly get paid to promote through creator funds.
Platforms have also been found to suppress visibility on certain posts that users make simply for linking to external content and websites without any sort of notice or advice. This secretively held practice invalidates most of the reasons why a company or individual would use these "social" platforms to begin with, as the Internet is widely distributed. The practice also greatly limits the ability of users to share work hosted on other social and personal platforms, requires users to upload content individually to each platform with every update, and it often entitles platforms to own many rights to re-use creator content without payment by nature. Platforms often mute and limit visibility of posts made with external links in them because they do not want others that view the posts to navigate outside of their specific platform... It's not at all a reasonable practice for a truly open Internet, and it's bad business to not make that practice clear to all posters and platform users.
May users have been finding out the hard way that moderation on platforms has become hostile, indisputable, and dysfunctional for them in supporting their accounts as well. On many large platforms, support is often not responsive and/or dismissive when problems arise, which is never pleasant when you run vital presences there.
I have come across many instance of users also complaining about being unexpectedly banned from platforms for life for really simple and sometimes obtuse rule violations, like promoting their work and/or business on certain platforms, I myself was suspended for life from a very reputable account I held on Reddit not long ago, and all of the work I had poured into Reddit was orphaned without the ability to dispute it. SOURCE: http://circuitbored.com/communicate/viewtopic.php?t=205
All this being said, there are some good things that can be learned through our current frustration with social media platforms. We can be far more independent by starting and maintaining our own web sites, which is a valuable ability we still have. We need to vigorously protect that right, and work hard to keep the costs of doing so reasonable. We can also save a lot of time and frustration by not depositing too much time and effort into learning and using major platforms, and put that effort into the quality of our own work. And lastly, we can avoid being triggered by the promoted content of these platforms by using them less, until they learn that moderation exists to keep users happy, productive, and satisfied with user experiences, not to protect company revenue, subvert posts, and to subvert users who have valid things to contribute to their communities.
Shortly after writing this, A clever depiction of the unexposed motivation behind the industry, was made by Cracked
-I guess someone reads us (har)- It's also neatly crafted to not use words that online algorithms generally would suppress:
If Social Media Were Honest | Honest Ads (Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok):
The best content, made by the most talented people, is becoming less and less discoverable on platforms because the creators of it are often not enrolled in the pipelines of the companies involved in presenting what you see on social media. It explains why so much marginal content, copycat content, stolen posts, and reposts are now prevalent across many major platforms. We need to push back on platforms to stop mis-leading everyone about the levels of success and fairness they present everyone as possible, to have them mark promoted content clearly and prominently again. If we don't call these forms of manipulation and subversion out, when we truly begin to realize the impacts of these control issues, there may be no other options to remain independent and successful without submitting to the controlled narratives of huge and quite manipulative platforms. If users remain unaware of the underlying deception that is occurring, while creators are continually forced to pay for visibility, the stranglehold on business opportunity will only become tighter over time. The current model requires massive amounts of free labor, and on top of that labor, promoting posts is like paying an employer in hopes of eventually making a profit... A deeply veiled scam in my opinion.
If you regularly have solid interactions for your brand and business related content outside of social media communities, but never make it anywhere near to featured pages on social media communities you frequent, that's often the first sign that you may well be working within the wrong online community. If you're paying for advertisement that doesn't yield positive and targeted business results, that's a big banner that the platform you're investing in is simply not meant to be effective for you, and one of the key steps in ensuring your business succeeds is results based growth. If social media doesn't provide growth and results, or it is manipulated to serve the platform ABOVE users of the platform, in truth it's really useless, and even worse, it's a waste of time.
If you have opinions or ideas related to anything we post here we would love to hear them and connect with you. We don't run ads here, so that does not enable us yet to maintain and moderate a large site... You can however correspond with us on Twitter @CircuitBoredCom (https://twitter.com/CircuitBoredCom) or email us your ideas and feedback at email@example.com and it may well end up being featured on this site and/or our (limited in visibility because we don't pay to promote it) Twitter account.
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