When Facebook began charging business owners to “boost their posts” so that all of their followers would see the articles and promotions, we thought there would be a backlash. And possibly a mass exodus of users who would find new free platforms to promote their businesses and products and interact with their customers. We were wrong.
Instead Facebook started buying the other competitors (such as Instagram) and they earned $4 billion last year and increased their market cap to over $300 billion. Mark Zuckerberg is now worth 100 times more than Bill Gates was at his age. This is scary. We personally made a very strong push towards Instagram. We love the user interface and the simple way of presenting stories and photos. Twitter, SnapChat, Squarespace, Google +, Pinterest, Vine, WhatsApp — we simply don’t have the bandwidth to offer so much of our attention. This is unfortunate because it means Facebook will likely only get bigger and require more money from business owners to promote their products and services. Also, the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) doesn’t seem to care if they buy out competing platforms.
To put this trend in perspective compare the aggregate value of Comcast (which owns NBC, Xfinity) and Disney (which owns dozens of properties, theme parks, Star Wars, and ABC) then you are about the same market-cap as Facebook. And it would take nearly the market-cap of every major newspaper in the top 200 largest cities in the United States to equal the market-cap of Facebook. If we continue to support social media with our dollars over traditional news media (as the market predicts) Facebook will only come time control the voices and opinions and ideas and interactions of the free market to an even greater degree.
Facebook is certainly an incredible media platform. It allows people to keep in touch and have friends with minimal emotional commitment or involvement. But even better it allows virtual communities to form and allows engaged consumers to interact with business owners.
Our Love/Hate Relationship with Facebook
When we had our essential oils story go viral through Facebook, we began to understand the very powerful force. Thousands of essential oils users commented on our story and debated the various issues surrounding essential oils and MLMs. This type of engagement would never be possible through a forum, a news website or anything other than a social platform that boasts 1.5 billion active users.
There is a YouTuber out there I follow, I subscribe to his channel and I watch most of his videos and his name is Casey Neistat. He is based out of New York and his videos are highly entertaining, engaging and he is using the YouTube platform to its full potential. Neistat realized his first viral video success through a biking video he made demonstrating the inability to remain in a bike lane in New York City. Neistat is a filmmaker who now has adopted YouTube as his platform of choice for sharing his films, ideas, inspiration and two special sections of his channel offerings Q&A and mail time. Neistat has nearly 1.5 million subscribers to his channel, and his subscribers are very active in sharing. His Q&A is bombarded with video questions from his audience about life, work and career. I know there are about 50 other YouTubers who make a living like Neistat simply making new YouTube videos every day, but I don’t watch them because there are only 24 hours in a day, and many of them just focus on video games, pranks, crazy adventure or gadgets.
Our YouTube Shining Star Moments
Eight years ago I started posting on YouTube and was amazed to see my beginning filmmaking video on violin making quickly pick up over 100,000 views. But my longer documentaries, that I put weeks of time and effort into didn’t perform well. In the beginning of Utah Stories I published to YouTube around one or two videos per month and most failed to gain much viewership. Then a video on pruning tomatoes quickly gained over 300,000 views! Then I realized what it took to make a successful YouTube video– offer true insight into a very specific topic (offering great storytelling) and your viewers will find you– very likely from Google searches. (Google owns YouTube).
Last year we had one video that did very well on YouTube. It was our expose on Cottonwood Heights Police Department. I majored in Documentary filmmaking from the UofU. And starting out I was always wanting to find new venues to show my short films (mostly stories on artists and urban farmers Ute Indians etc.) I see YouTube as this great democratization of media consumption. And it operates on a meritocracy. For better or for worse, the most appealing videos rise to the top and get a lot of views. Major network heads and studio bosses no longer control what we will see and not see. Instead anyone with a video camera and a face can become a YouTuber and gain an audience.
See Part 1 on drones and driverless cars: www.utahstories.com/2016/01/welcome-to-2016/ and Part 2 on Airbnb: www.utahstories.com/2016/01/welcome-to-2016-airbnb/