*This blog post is for a school assignment. Regular tea fix to follow.
In my first year of Creative Communications I’ve been exposed to a lot of new things. I never thought I’d be the blogging type, mostly because I didn’t think there were people who would want to read what I produce. If you fall under a similar mindset; think again. There’s a blogworthy topic that you have a breadth of knowledge on that people may find interesting. The difficulty is presenting your knowledge in a topical, easy-to-digest format.
Blogging – and social media for that matter – is about more than just hitting post and expecting people to flood you with likes, shares and impressions. In 2016, we are bombarded with more information on a larger array of platforms than any other generation. In 2014, there were an estimated 248 million active blogs. That’s 248 million individual sources for information, published by someone who thinks they have something to say that’s worth sharing.
The concept behind social media is simple; people wanted an easier way to share and connect in the digital age. Previous generations had postcards, scrapbooks, slideshows, home videos and greeting cards. We still have all of those, except they’re digital and are shared instantly. We don’t need to pay for postage, or make sure we bring the VHS with us, or even choose who gets to see what we want to share. We can share anything we want. Instantly. With everyone, whether you like it or not. Our demand for free, instantaneous sharing has created a model that didn’t generate income to sustain our social habits. We enjoyed free sharing without thinking about how this could continue.
At first, social media was seen as a niche thing that tech-savvy college students and basement-dwellers enjoyed. Traditional media wasn’t worried and business went on as usual. Then the Facebooks, Instagrams, and Twitters began attracting the masses. The platforms that couldn’t keep up feel to the wayside as the ‘heavy hitters’ gained steam and pushed forward. Then, as these social media giants became established companies, they started to find ways to monetize what they were doing. The primary way this is being done is advertising.
Many people complain about advertising on social media. Pop-ups, promoted posts, sponsored pages, if there’s a way to advertise, social media will find it. Even though I don’t like my feeds filling with ads, I understand their necessity. When you have an app that hosts hundreds of millions of users every day you need a way to keep your servers humming and the hackers out. These things cost money and it has to come from somewhere.
Short of abandoning all electronic devices and moving to a remote forest, advertising will be part of your life. As long as there’s someone selling something and someone willing to buy that product, there will be advertising. It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that advertising has infiltrated social media. When we chose to digitize our lives, why would the advertising industry ignore that?
The point of all of my rambling is that sharing comes at a cost. Whether it’s having to deal with ads in our feeds, or paying to promote a post, sharing and being connected with each other has a cost associated with it. It’s much easier to tolerate a couple ads than it is to create your own app to share sans advertising. But at the end of the day, when you post to social media, isn’t what you’re doing advertising too?