How Social Media Wags the Dog and How Blockchain Will Change Everything

Over the last 20 years I have been involved with advertising technology, copy writing, marketing, direct marketing, and just about every form of advertising that exists in America. I love advertising. I have a special place in my heart (and my wallet) for advertising and marketing. The creative aspects of advertising can be nothing short of brilliant; as is the case with the mathematics used in formulating and measuring marketing campaigns!

Historically (meaning: radio, print, TV) , you needed to justify advertising rates with circulation, readers, subscribers, etc. Nielsen built their entire business on providing TV/radio/internet publishers what was available in “old media”. Advertising with publishers was simple: if you wanted to reach an audience of 6MM parents and have the budget, you could find the right publications, shows, etc. and even narrow your market based upon the demographic overlay of the publishers’ audience. In other words, you want to sell baby clothes to parent… you advertise in Parents magazine, not Wild West Magazine. You’d do the opposite for your limited edition collectors coin.

Social Media ushered in a promise of having near real-time and (supposedly) far more accurate statistics. Suddenly, we weren’t talking about difficult to quantify metrics like “circulation” and “page views”. Social Media brought us the “follower” and “like” metrics (likes, reactions, upvotes, etc), which are the ultimate… They are the Jesus metric and ostensibly engagement.

Of course, bots are an issue, but there’s a larger issue with Social Media metrics: the value that followers and likes are afforded. Standard web metrics like page views/session and time on a page are the gold standard for content engagement, and followers + likes are supposed to provide the same for Social Media. Yet, followers and and likes have a serious shortcoming. I’ll get to that in a bit but first…

There are really only two true “value” measurements in modern technology: human time and processor power+time (which is easy to measure in electricity). Followers and likes doesn’t measure either of those as the human time it takes to follow is nominal as is the computer time). Not to mention the intent of a follower (e.g. Judas followers & Judas sharing). This is further exacerbated by the fact that most Social Media is “free”. Obviously, Social Media is not free. The cost is your data, the rights to your content, and being subjected to the network bubble that ensues. But I digress…

Following a profile on Social Media costs very little human or computer time. Same with likes/reactions. In fact, keeping up with those profiles requires very little human or computer time AND technology is making that time less and less with automation and AI. In other words, Social Media metrics of followers and likes have virtually no economic value (human + computer time). Even comments are questionable. (consider the @username comments that are prevalent in Social Media). Throw in the fact that followers and likes can be purchased through advertising and followers/likes can carry a negative economic value to the brand.

Yet, Social Media monetary value is measured in followers. “Influencers” are those with a greater number of followers and reactions on their media. Throw in bots and the fact that all Social Media algorithms formulate a bubble and it’s not difficult to figure out how to game the social media systems.

Social Media made formulas for determining relevance that is calculated based upon self referencing metrics that are easily gamed and also have little to no economic value. Social Media formulas are not based upon relevance derived by a premium on top of human and computer time.

Enter Social Media powered by tokenizing (e.g blockchain mining). Social Media no longer needs to be powered by advertising (although advertising does not go away). Users mine on their network(s) of choice and use their earnings to perform network interactions. Users are directly investing their computer time into their social network(s), even without consuming content or using the network.

Placing content on the network(s) requires exchanging/purchasing the content space on the network. Which is somewhat counter to social networks today that are paying content creators for their content via advertising.

So, why would anyone want this tokenized model when everything under today’s model is “free”?

  • Consuming content would also require an exchange/purchase, and content creators can place a premium on interacting with their content
  • Advertising/product placement would still exist and content creators have more powerful metrics (e.g. on average, I receive 500,000 tokens for every piece of content I produce) to provide advertisers such that the content creators can charge more
  • Content creators have the ability to set their own rates of consumption as well as the license of their content (permanent, time limitation, etc)
  • Helpers (think stackoverflow.com) would be able to determine if someone asking a question is paying a viable rate for them to provide their insight for tips. For example, User A tips well for the winning answer to a complex coding issue. Helper 1 sees that and is willing to provide more comprehensive advise than RTFM and is rewarded handsomely by User A for the sound advice
  • Advertising on the social networks would have smart contracts that could come with clauses making bot interactions and/or nefarious interactions much easier to punish
  • The social networks have control over all the tokens and can easily reverse/punish bot transactions, virtually eliminating the problem of bots. In other words, if a bot farm wants to provide mining for the social network so that the bot farm can produce and interact with content on a massive scale such that it would influence people, it will cost the bot farm considerably more computer time than it does now. Also, once the bot farm is determined to be a bot farm by the social network, the bot farm tokens can be confiscated by the social network and the bot farm content revoked. The bot farm loses everything and all users effected regain their tokens (providing additional incentive to the social network users to not tolerate bots). The bot farm would have to shift its mining elsewhere immediately or else it would continue paying the social network in mining resources (i.e. computer time).
  • Content creators of games would be able to tap into the mining power of the users playing their games to add a revenue source and help offset their costs to be part of the network.

Perhaps, users could also mine elsewhere and then transfer funds to their social network wallet of choice and exchange for tokens to interact on that network. This would open up an entire marketplace of services within the social network environment.

The value of a social network is now the amount of tokens created on it’s network * the exchange rate of those tokens on the open market. Followers and likes have measurable economic value, and Judas would be paying 30 tokens instead of earning tokens as a bot troll.

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