Riff: The Influencer Boom and Bust Market

Influencers as Investors and De-platforming Depression

BTW you can follow my Telegram channel for links and shorter commentary related to those links here: https://t.me/artxattention


From: Here’s What’s Happening in the American Teenage Bedroom

His most popular account, @Zuccccccccccc, taking its name from Facebook’s chief executive, had 1.2 million followers. If his posts were good, his account would keeping growing. If he took some time off, growth would stall. Rowan, like most teenagers on the internet, wasn’t after fame or money, though he made a decent amount — at one point $10,000 a month and more, he said. What Rowan wanted was clout…

On July 26, 2019, Rowan’s world turned upside down. He was lying in bed around 11 p.m., refreshing Instagram, when he got a notification: @Zuccccccccccc had been disabled.” 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/29/style/the-clout.html

I think this narrative is going to continue to be more common as boom and bust cycles for content creators happen/platforms shift. At this point many people know someone who has some type of influencer status online. That Facebook group, or Tumblr page is no longer the center of gravity. It’s tough enough to build up once, but doing it multiple times across networks takes true skill.

It makes me wonder about career x attention arbitrage. When you’re in it you feel like it will continue forever. But the reality is that culture shifts and attention does as well. In lieu of this, it’s almost certainly the case that people under-optimize for cash in the short run in exchange for potential attention runway in the long run.

While this is smart for a career, it may be less so in the attention market, where stockpiling cash and then disrupting yourself by staying ahead of the culture may be more of a necessity than in traditional enterprise.

We’re only now just starting to see Influencers as Businesses. But they’re also, just individuals. The booms are bigger, but so are the busts. And many people are feeling the bust from a de-platforming, algorithm shift, or otherwise.

Rowan lost his account and became depressed after the account was canceled by IG without warning and it made him depressed. He’d been used to mass engagement and a feeling of impact that came with the 1M+ following.

This is something we’ll have to navigate as that inverts and cycles inevitably change. Emotionally it’s like breaking up, or losing your job.

What do you do when your platform gets pulled out from underneath you?

What do you do when the culture shifts?

  • You keep taking shots on goal.

  • You optimize for people, your crew, you keep a tight knit group, or you find a new one.

  • And you likely we have to learn that not all impact is the same, that reach isn’t the same as depth, that we play different roles across our careers.

In this information rich world we’ll play both roles of consumer and producer at various scales. So cash in off the top when it’s going well, acquire skills and networks when you’re in a down market to build back up your base, and know that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.


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I’m David, and you can check out some of my work – Hit reply to chat more about your brand or community or anything else that you’ve got questions about.

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