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The Instagram Fracas – The Big Picture

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Evolve or die.

Every time a tech company capitulates to its audience and rolls back the future it’s a mistake. The best example being Netflix saying it was going to become a streaming company and the hoi polloi bitching that they still needed to rent DVDs by mail. Who’d want to stream movies? Well, despite Netflix backtracking, saying it was going to split into two companies, the streaming giant was right all along. Rent any DVDs by mail recently? Never mind streaming decimating linear television while ushering in the true golden age of television, now the superior art form. The boob tube? It’s not even a tube anymore!

And Disney and HBO ultimately woke up, after getting over their short-term profit mania of licensing their shows to others.

Bottom line? Sharing photos is old school.

I could go back to the days of AOL and illustrate all the stuff that ruled then which looks positively quaint today. Like their constant hosting of online discussions with celebrities. Sure, we still have Reddit AMAs, but they’re not top of mind at all.

This is the history of tech, moving forward.

A personal example. I’m an early adopter. I was visible online when very few were. Therefore, I heard from all these people I knew during my life that I’d lost touch with, I was reachable. Now EVERYBODY is reachable. That’s what Facebook has wrought, and it’s positively old school and I no longer hear from ancient buddies. And to tell you the truth, I’m not interested in seeing you brag online. And I’m not even that interested in what you’re doing moment by moment. All that sharing… Now I know why I lost touch with you in the first place.

So TikTok is not static, it’s entertainment. Talk to any of the big TV streamers, they fear TikTok more than each other. TikTok eats up three hours a day of the young ‘uns’ lives. Leaving little time to stream TV. As for network… Do these kids even have cable access?

And TikTok is about something different from Instagram, it’s about ENTERTAINMENT! Seeing what is cool. Sure, there’s a train-wreck factor, but it’s hard to tear yourself away from the endless videos. It’s the hotspot of the internet in 2022 when the entire digital infrastructure is de rigueur, expected, part of the fabric.

So why are the Kardashian/Jenners so upset about these changes?

THE MONEY!

You see they’ve got all these followers, and therefore they can charge advertisers 650k to a million dollars for a post. Talk about easy money.

But one of the reasons TikTok is so successful is because it’s democratized, the winners don’t necessarily take all. The algorithm promotes the new and different. So, it’s kind of like the lottery, anybody can win, as long as you buy a ticket.

But the lottery requires no skill. With TikTok the number one criterion for success is creativity, and this is anathema to the brain dead. Which is why all the music sounds the same, why all the movies are based on comic book characters. Because the big companies with money don’t want to take any risk, they want sure shots. But individuals? They cook up all kinds of wild things, in an effort to gain views and internet fame, and possibly some money too.

This is not the Kardashian/Jenner paradigm, which is built like a traditional business. I.e. you build a base and you keep expanding upon it. You don’t want your core skills to be superseded and you don’t want a level playing field.

Video is much different from stills. The Kardashian/Jenners have employed makeup, airbrushing, and plastic surgery to success. But when you’ve got to move… And the most successful TikToks are the least professional ones. All the old values of recorded entertainment, the raw, the credible, the incredible, are important on TikTok. How you look? Much less important.

So, everyone making bank from stills on Instagram doesn’t want it to shift to the much harder to produce, much more authentic video. They’ve got to learn a new skill and unless their posts are great, the algorithm won’t proffer them and…

As for the nobodies clamoring for the old photo format… Look at Facebook itself, positively a social media also-ran. Oldsters doing the same thing they did ten years ago, trading info. Even Meta itself said this is not how you do it anymore, it’s all about direct messages, texts, iMessage, that’s how you reach your buds, privately. And chances are most people don’t see your posts on social media anyway, unless…

You’re a Kardashian/Jenner with millions of followers. Only a small minority will actually see the posts, but it’s just like network television… Ratings are terrible compared to the days of yore, but advertising on networks is still the best way to reach the most people.

As for advertisers themselves, they’ve tightened the purse strings, they’re not sure all that money they were throwing around online was paying dividends. Just like sponsorship in music. If you want to get a big company involved in your tour, you’d better be able to demonstrate how they’re going to get their money back, the value, because hanging with rock stars is no longer enough.

It all goes back to Steve Jobs. You do no market research because that will just tell you where you’ve been. And the public has no concept of the future until you deliver it.

It’s no longer about personal sharing, it’s about ENTERTAINMENT! You’ve got to earn those views through quality, otherwise, the algorithm won’t cough you up.

Flipping the story over… You can never trust the big tech kahunas. Google changes its algorithm, Amazon goes into competition with you as it charges ever more to play… You’ve got to be nimble to survive in the online world, if you keep doing the same thing you’re going to find yourself out of time. Like rock music.

Instagram just blinked, a la Netflix, but don’t expect this to last.

And as Clayton Christensen said, if a company is not willing to disrupt itself, it will be disrupted by someone else. In this case, Meta’s platforms by TikTok.

As for Meta… It was disrupted by Apple. Meta kept saying tracking was good. For the small company. For business. But in truth, it was good for the company itself. But customers hated the lack of privacy. And therefore Apple allowed you to hide your identity and almost everybody now does.

But Meta sees the end of the road, which is why it’s investing so much money in VR, i.e. the metaverse. Will Facebook succeed? That’s yet to be seen. But one thing is for sure, Zuckerberg realizes if he rests on his laurels and just keeps doing what he’s doing he’s screwed, better to throw the long ball.

The people already voted, they want short-form video a la TikTok.

The fact that there are celebs complaining about change… When have they ever been right?

The labels said the CD was superior to all other formats, especially traded MP3s.

The acts said you can’t cherry-pick tunes.

All these complaints were superseded by streaming music platforms like Spotify. The public didn’t even understand Spotify when it was launched. But now streaming music is everything, that’s where all the money is, that’s what the consumers want, despite all this hype on vinyl and the manipulated charts.

A classic rock band may be able to tour on its ancient hits, but not a tech company. In tech, you have to constantly innovate, because he who is not busy born is busy dying.

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