182: It’s tricky: creating and consuming content in today’s world

182: It’s tricky: creating and consuming content in today’s world

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In today’s world, you’re either a content creator, a content consumer, or both—and you’ve got this issue: how do I create (or consume) content when I’m frustrated with the censorship or behind-the-scenes of what’s happening on some of the platforms the content is offered on? As a content creator, how do I know where I should put my stuff? As a content creator, how do I know the point that I should leave a platform that I don’t agree with, especially if leaving it will negatively affect my bottom line? As a content consumer, with all the hullabaloo and drama that’s out there, how do I best support the content creators I enjoy?

Let’s dig into all these questions.

What if you don’t like what YouTube is doing?

I enjoy making videos and I have a YouTube channel. I recently talked about my 2022 goals with YouTube and how those goals have changed, just a month into the new year. (When Changing Goals Makes Sense, Episode 181)

Fireside Freedom, the group podcast that I’m involved in, also has a YouTube channel. In fact, Fireside Freedom does weekly livestreams on YouTube, Flote, and Odysee. Generally speaking, very few people watch the Odysee stream, and, as Flote is still in beta, sometimes the Flote livestream dies. So, even if we don’t necessarily like YouTube, YouTube is still the most efficient way for Fireside Freedom to livestream. And it also remains the place where most people watch us.

But.

We all know that YouTube has issues with censorship. We all know that YouTube takes things down they don’t agree with. Last week, Jack Spirko from The Survival Podcast had a livestream about Covid get taken down and then he was put in YouTube jail for a week. This occasionally happens to friends of mine and fellow content creators, and content creators deal with that differently. Some people get something taken down and they say, YouTube can go screw! and they stop posting there. Other content creators say, Meh. When I get out of YouTube jail, I’m gonna keep posting on YouTube until they permanently suspend me or kill my channel.

Why? Because YouTube is still the biggest place to reach people.

What if you don’t like what Facebook is doing?

This is an interesting one, because if I would have recorded this last week, I would have had something totally different to say. But due to events of the past week, I’ve dug into a few things and realized something that “changes everything.” Sort of.

For me, Facebook is good for local things. We have tried to set up a Next Door neighborhood and we can’t get anyone to bite. Also, all I see on Next Door are ads that have nothing to do with where I live. So Facebook continues to be the best way to find out what’s happening in our little town, figure out whose lost dog is where, who has what for sale, things like that.

But feeling like I have to be there and post there and do all the things there as a content creator is tricky because:

  • I sometimes post things people don’t agree with, and it makes people mad (which sometimes results in Facebook removing the post) and,
  • I sometimes witness the most ridiculous conversations in the comments of things that I have posted, oftentimes arguments that are so far from what the original post was about that it’s hard to see how the conversation even went there.

And I can post those same things on other social media platforms and a) they don’t get taken down and b) if people don’t agree with what I’ve posted, they can generally have an adult conversation or scroll past the thing that doesn’t apply to them. Facebook continually fails to figure that concept out—which I actually think is a side effect of Facebook being the largest social media platform. With more people and more personalities, you have more issues.

But, you gotta be there, right? Because as a content creator, that’s where all the people are. That’s what’s bringing you the majority of your social media traffic, right?

Where does the traffic actually come from?

Originally, I hung onto Facebook because I thought it was essential to my business. According to the analytics on my website, Facebook was THE social media bringing people to my website. 

But I also started to question that because I had people who said, “I’m not on Facebook. I get to your content when you post about it on MeWe. Or Flote. Or Telegram.”

And I thought that was weird, because MeWe and Flote and Telegram have never shown up as bringing any traffic to my website.

So, early one morning, I did an experiment on Telegram. I posted a link there to a blog post of mine, and I asked people who were active in our Telegram chat at that moment to click on that blog post link from Telegram. And then I sat in my real time google analytics and watched as each of their clicks showed up as a visit to that particular blog post.

But their traffic did not get tagged as social media traffic, it got tagged as direct traffic. Which I thought was weird, because I had been taught direct traffic is when someone actually types in or copy/pastes a specific url or follows a bookmark to a specific blog post.

But when I saw the Telegram visits to my site show up as direct traffic, my wheels started turning.

Asking around, a couple people mentioned that maybe these alternative websites can’t be tracked. A friend had read that the more private sites like MeWe, Telegram, etc. block the ability for tracking links to work so data cannot be harvested, so this friend said I would probably never see any traffic as marked as coming from those alternative social media sites.

I dug into it more and came across this bit of information:

“If Google Analytics can’t recognize the traffic source of a visit, it will be categorized as Direct in your Analytics report.” – monsterinsights.com

And suddenly everything clicked. Because I have a pretty high percentage of “direct traffic”, which I always thought was kind of weird, because there is no way that many people are typing in/copy-pasting/bookmarking specific links to my blog posts. But now I realize it’s not weird, it’s not a mistake, and it’s not a mystery. That traffic is all the alternative social media networks that I am active on and that I post links on. It’s the fabulous communities there clicking on those links and visiting my site and consuming the content I’ve made for them.

And you know what? My percentage of “direct traffic” is way higher than my percentage of “Facebook” traffic.

How is that for a plot twist?

Which means I don’t have to be so stressed out about feeling I HAVE to devote all my time to Facebook in the fear that if I don’t, I will miss out on a ton of traffic. And just that change in perspective is HUGE for me as a content creator.

Do we leave the bigger platforms?

If YouTube and Facebook and whatever other big giant makes us mad, do we pack up all our toys and go home? Do we stop posting there?

Jack Spirko and Jason Bassler (who have both dealt with censorship and/or having accounts removed on YouTube/Facebook) recently had an interesting conversation about censorship and solutions to it on Episode 3024 of the Survival Podcast. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but they basically discussed that the smaller platforms won’t become competition for the bigger platforms until those smaller platforms grow, and the smaller platforms won’t grow unless people are talking about them on the bigger platforms.

In other words, talking about Flote on Flote isn’t going to help Flote.app grow. Talking about Flote on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram will.

Talking about Odysee on Odysee isn’t going to help Odysee.com grow. Mentioning Odysee on YouTube might. You’re not going to pull people from Odysee to join Odysee, know what I mean?

And I know that YouTube and Facebook have a lot of issues. And I totally get people who don’t want to stay there or give them traffic, and that is a choice you have every right to make.

But.

How do you tell people about alternative options when you’re only dealing with the alternatives?

We often assume that if leave a platform, people will immediately notice, say, “woah, omg, where did they go?” and then search for where we went. For the vast majority of people have a goldfish attention span. It can take 6 months before they think, “huh. I haven’t seen a post from them in awhile.” 

And yes, all this information of where to find a content creator should be on their website, but I will also point out here that I’ve had people who have followed me for years on Facebook who did not know I had a website, even though at that time I was posting something from my website on Facebook once a day. I have people who do not realize I have a podcast, even though I talk about the podcast all the time, we’re on episode 182, and I’ve been doing this for 4 years.

So, if you decide to leave a platform, don’t assume that people will even realize you’re not there. That’s probably a statement on attention spans, or how much people listen, or maybe just the fact there is a giant flood of information coming at us all the time.

Use the platform against itself

There are rules on some platforms. Do you follow them? Do you play the game? Or do what you want? I gave my thoughts about playing the (monetization) game on YouTube recently:

Staying on a big platform to talk about an alternative one almost feels a bit like using the big platform against itself. It’s like being that mosquito in the room who is ready to say, “hey, you know there are other platforms available” or “hey, you know you can watch my videos here or these other places.” You’re buzzing into people’s ears and continuing to point out the alternatives, and you can’t do that unless you’re actually in the room with the people.

Because the reality is, Facebook is the biggest social media platform. And YouTube is the biggest video platform. And that’s where the largest percent of people are. And if you want to reach the most people to give them information, whether that’s about your homestead, what you had for dinner, or the alternative platforms you’re really diggin’, you have to be where most of the people are. 

In talking about other platforms, I would follow the advice that I normally give which is don’t be a jerk. There are two different approaches to sway people to Telegram, Flote, MeWe, etc. You can say, “Facebook sucks and if you’re still on it you’re a loser, come join me at Flote!” or you can say, “We’re having this really great conversation over on Flote about XYZ. Consider joining us!”

How free content changed our world:

The internet and social media and all these places you can provide or consume content is actually pretty mind-blowing when you look at it in comparison to how things were 30-40 years ago. 

Part of the issue with the internet and social media and content creation is that somewhere along the line, consumers of video and articles and podcasts got used to getting content for free. It doesn’t cost you anything to sit on YouTube all day and watch videos. There is no financial responsibility on your end if you listen to podcasts all day. You can read article after article about whatever for free.

Do you ever stop to think about that? And does it ever blow your mind?

It blows mine. When I was little, if you wanted content, you had eight channels on television or you borrowed stuff from the library. Everything else, you had to pay for. You had to rent or buy a VHS movie, pay for cable TV, buy a new book, buy a new cassette or cd, etc. Now you just pop onto the internet via whatever device you have, and everything is right there—and the vast majority, you don’t have to pay “extra” for.

Crazy, right? Maybe not to someone who is 20. But to someone who is almost 43, the difference between consuming content back then and what is available now (for free) is amazing.

How to best support content creators

There are all these people putting content out there for us to watch, listen to, or read. How can we support them best?

  • Share their stuff. Share their blog posts, their podcast episodes, their videos… whatever content they are creating. Bring them more traffic. (Don’t assume that people already know who they are.)
  • Help them build their following on alternative social medias/platforms. The smaller ones can’t be competition for the bigger ones until there are more people there.
  • Use their affiliate link to shop.
  • Support the content that isn’t tied to “something else”. You can watch my videos all day on YouTube, but at any point YouTube can get mad about something that I posted or said and can put me in YouTube jail or take down my channel. It’s great to have a place to upload videos but that whole thing there could go away just like that. I’m not in control of it.
  • If offered, consider buying a membership to the content creator’s website—it’s not only a way to get special members-only perks, but it’s also a nice way to say hey, I appreciate the content you’re pumping out for us.
  • Support the offline content and/or their products. Nicole Sauce’s (LFTN) coffee. My snail mail newsletter. Order the books they have written. Order their soaps or salves or spice mixes or quilts or aprons or sweatshirts or laser engraved coffee tumblers. 
  • Still wondering how to support your favorite content creator? Ask them.

Content creation and consumption: something to think about!

It’s awesome to have so many options of how to consume content (or create it!) but it does get frustrating and complicated when you start looking behind the scenes at what is going on with some of the platforms. I hope this post will give you something to think about as you continue to consume (or create!) content in the future!

— Amy Dingmann, 2-1-22

Livestream/replay: Me on Coffee with Brian (2-5-22 11 am CST) Living Outside the System

Livestream/replay: Me on Toolman Tim Cook’s Workshop (2-6-22 8 am CST) Be Brave Enough to Suck

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