Creator Economy

Can creators monetize only if they please the algorithm?

Sunaina Patnaik
Sep 5, 2023
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minutes read

Remember the good old days? ๐Ÿค”

The days when you were known only because of your content and weren't really at the mercy of the algorithm gods! Well, we all miss those days. Today, creator juggle plenty of things and struggle with imposter syndrome, landing sponsorships and brand deals and tackling the ever-changing algorithm.

If we talk about Instagram alone, did you know around 500M users clock the platform daily? Creators and social media managers may hustle to cater to a fraction of these users, but on most days, instead of relying on content, we rely on tips and tricks.

"Why don't you post something on the feed right before an IG Live? The algorithm will recommend the post to the Live participants." โ€” a hack many social media managers rely on is perhaps inaccurate. But we do what we got to do to feature in Explore feeds, to go viral, and to be loved by more than just our users.

It's what the algorithm makes us do.

And that brings me to today's conversation: Can creators monetize only if they please the algorithm?

๐Ÿ‘‰ Check out: How Instagram algorithm can work in 2024 by Later

Social media algorithms: Foe or ally?

Don't you think it's a bit of both? ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ

While most creators (including us) argue LinkedIn algorithm is quite spot on, many say Instagram algorithm is broken. The fact that it changes its priorities way too often confuses creators โ€” what do you focus on? Reels or carousels?

At the start of 2023, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, took to Instagram and said they prioritized Reels abundantly in 2022 and that changes are approaching. ๐Ÿ‘‡

Earlier this year, we published a piece 'Are musicians chasing virality on social media' because success on socials is perceived as success outside socials. In this, we discuss how platforms say the algorithm is crafted to best serve creators and its users โ€” but if we're being honest, the algorithm serves its platform.

Digiday says, โ€œAs the social media landscapes continue to evolve, with platformsโ€™ ever-shifting focus, the continuing pivot-to-and-from-video, the algorithm and audience changes, social media content creators have been caught in the middle. They say dealing with the constant jostling is time consuming and difficult to manage. A few years ago, content creators could use only one social media platform to establish their content strategies. But the deluge of social media platforms โ€” and the fragmented marketplace โ€” have made it difficult to keep up with where the audience is going.โ€

Read the entire piece. ๐Ÿ‘‡

We hear creators often say the algorithm made us do it. From jumping onto trends that sometimes don't make sense to changing content plans drastically whenever the content doesn't go viral โ€” creators are under pressure and how!

Are we at the mercy of algorithms?

The fact is everyone aspires to be on Explore or homepage feeds of platforms!

Emily Pederson, a University of California at Berkeley graduate, published a research report on how content creators craft algorithmic personas and perceive the algorithm that dictates their work. In the research report, she writes, โ€œA growing number of people have to negotiate with opaque, proprietary algorithms as part of their work. Algorithms deployed by platforms such as YouTube and Uber manage the work of content creators and drivers, decide on pay, and effectively redistribute uncertainty and risks from the platforms to workers with no means for recourse. Largely missing from these conversations is engagement with the people most affected by these algorithms: how do they make sense of the algorithm?โ€

When you sit through the entire report, tapping into the impact of algorithm and addressing the bigger evil seems inevitable.

๐Ÿ‘‰ If there is one thing you should read today, you should read this research report.

Oftentimes, creators mimic what's working for other creators and viral videos, hoping it would work for them. Look at the number of Mr Beast lookalikes across the world. Here's what creator George Poulos has to say about algorithms, and why he stopped chasing them. ๐Ÿ‘‡

Perhaps, all we need are 1000 true fans?

๐Ÿ‘‰ Read the piece: The Algorithm: The Death of a Generation of Creators by Oladimeji Ajegbile

Have y'all read the 1,000 True Fans essay by Kevin Kelly? Although Kevin wrote this essay in 2008, he updated it with addendums and another feature that discusses the reality of depending on true fans.

Read the full piece for proper enlightenment. ๐Ÿ‘‡

You can also watch this video visualization to get a gist of the essay. ๐Ÿ‘‡

Well, if you've read the main piece and the extended feature, you don't feel so hopeful, right? It actually makes you wonder if you can monetize without pleasing the algorithm. Unfortunately there is no straightforward answer to this question, but one thing's for sure: diversification of revenue streams is the only way forward.

What do you think?

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