Opinion: Social media is no longer just for scammers

The World Wide Web, as we know it, has evolved at breakneck speed over the years. Yet it hit the mainstream only 25 years ago, and during that time it has already undergone multiple transformations.

What is Web 3.0?

The first era of the Internet, or Web 1.0, was when we accessed it through our desktop browsers – laptops were a luxury, Wi-Fi was about to kick in, and mobile data was non-existent – and visits to portals like Yahoo and MSN. The Internet was in “Reading” mode and we had limited ability to interact with it.

The evolution of the web over the years.Business Insider India

This changed in 2005, the period of Web 2.0 when we could start to interact with the internet. Suddenly blogging, writing reviews on Yelp, and commenting on articles became a way of life. And Web 2.0 has seen the rise of an exciting new generation of ‘social’ businesses like Orkut, Facebook, Twitter, Insta – I call them Social 1.0 – as well as other platform companies such as Airbnb and Uber. Today we are at the heart of the evolution of Web 2.0 and many experts believe that it still has a long way to go.

So what is Web 3.0? Well, depending on who you ask and the time of day, you will get answers like Blockchain, Crypto, DeFi, dApps, DAO, NFT, etc. Basically, it’s an obsession with the themes of trustless computing, decentralization, and, in a very utopian way, deregulation. But was that really all?

I believe that behind these technological trends, Web 3.0 is really an assertion of greater control by the two important Internet stakeholders – creators and consumers – in terms of revenue from $$ on various social and privacy platforms for their data. And not so much on tech building blocks like NFT and blockchain – it’s more of a religious debate within the tech community, while the larger issue is how to return control to stakeholders.

So what happened in Social 1.0?

The main currency you earned in Social 1.0 was your social influence. It was measured in terms of likes, retweets and followers. And the monetization opportunities on the platform were limited. So, the creators focused on building great social influence and marketing their content or courses to their subscribers via links to other adjacent platforms like Gumroad. Over time, affiliate marketing also caught on and soon “influencers” started connecting brands with their followers, earning money for the promotion or earning a commission as a percentage of sales. All of this led to a scenario where influencers created ‘shrill’ and ‘clickbait’ content to get more followers, more clicks, and more revenue.

For us consumers, who were getting loads of content, it seemed like a good deal because it was free. Where was it? We quickly realized that we had paid for the services with our data! Our interests, social graphics, preferences weren’t private after all – they were sold to advertisers with the highest bid. Worse yet, Social 1.0 companies had no incentive to discourage fake news, trolling, bullying, and shame on their platform – it only meant more visits, more engagement, and therefore more opportunities to serve ads to users!

Social 2.0

Social 2.0 is a term I use for companies trying to change the status quo and put the interests of creators and consumers first. Their goal is to have a flexible and transparent business model for creators to win, with an emphasis on data privacy. These are businesses ready to hand control back to stakeholders, no matter whether the business is built on Web 2.0 or Web 3.0 technologies.

The torchbearer of this revolution is Patreon; it was born when its co-founder, Jack Conte, a musician, had an eye-opening: instead of spending his time, effort and $$ promoting music videos on YouTube (and earning a paltry $ 180s ‘he was lucky enough to get a million views), what if he just focused his energies on identifying his 18 superfans who would be willing to donate $ 10 each month to support him? This concept of micro-tipping has gained ground and there are now more than 250,000 creators on this platform! No wonder then that Patreon, in his last round of funding of $ 155 million, was valued at $ 4 billion.

Likewise, Substack is a Social 2.0 company (built on Web 1.0 technologies), which allows editors to launch email newsletters and earn through subscriptions. Today, some of the best writers make nearly $ 500,000 a year, and seasoned journalists have quit their precarious jobs with institutions like NYT and Buzzfeed to focus on writing on Substack.

Subscription is king

The subscription-based models of Social 2.0 companies like Patreon, Substack, Twitch and others allow creators to focus on building a stable annuity income and start seeing Social as a serious business with flows. predictable income. Kevin Kelly, a respected editor at Wired, predicted in 2008 that a creator only needs a thousand true fans to make a living. Today, the distributing power of the Internet and the proliferation of Social 2.0 businesses ensure that any creator can find their true fans across the world.

Most importantly, the focus on restricted release, instead of trying to build a base of millions of fans, gives creators more creative freedom – as long as there are 1,000 fans who see the value of their creations. and are ready to support them, they are free to create whatever they want and do not have to worry about conforming to popular tastes or the constraints of advertising and dopamine-based monetization models.

This freedom with regard to AI algorithms, which identify and promote the most “engaging” content is liberating. Creators have more control over content, how they want to price it, and in some cases, who ultimately owns the customer. For example, platforms like Substack allow the writer to take his mailing list with him, in case he decides to move his business to another platform.

Data confidentiality

The subscription-based model, where platforms take a% of the revenue, ensures that they don’t need to store user data and monetize it through ads, leading to better data privacy. Additionally, not having to rely on dopamine-based advertising models means platforms no longer have an incentive to promote sensationalism or fake news just to boost engagement on the platform, leading to a better user experience. overall.


One of the biggest impacts of Social 2.0 is the unbundling of Big-Tech – instead of users lumping together in a handful of Social 1.0 companies, creators and their fans are flocking to a plethora of platforms that offer their niche or community the best solution. From streaming games to Twitch, from writers to Substack and unbundling Facebook groups to paid communities on Slack and Discord channels, we’ll see Social 2.0 businesses proliferate in various shapes and forms that it might be difficult for us to do. to even recognize some of them. as “Social”.

Agitation vs value creation

So, we can see that Social 2.0 is going to create a class of creators who, instead of constantly worrying about having to grow their follower base, creating “clickbait” and “shrill” content, can now focus on creating. of meaningful content, which they and their fans appreciate and are building a solid business around it. Scrambling in front of a million fans will give way to creating value for a thousand true fans. And it’s going to fundamentally change the landscape of the creator economy.


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