The Great Unbundling Has Begun [Content Made Simple]
Issue #287: Fake Amazon reviews, people leaving Twitter, and more.
TOP OF THE WEEK
But for better or worse, a large platform in 2022 telling us that we need them — let alone saying that it wants us to pay them — to navigate the internet is wildly out-of-touch. And I’m not saying that because we aren’t using social networks anymore, but actually the opposite. We’re using more social networks more often than ever before, which makes any one single app kind of irrelevant. So, yeah, make verification a paid subscription and let it boost replies. I may even do it. But there’s only so much longer a site like Twitter can pretend that we need it when the truth is all around us: It needs us.
Unlike apparently most people, I don’t have super strong opinions about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter. I think some good could result. I think some disaster could result. I am interested to see how it goes. But I think Ryan Broderick hits the nail on the head here: social media platforms in 2022 need users more than users need social media platforms. If Elon doesn’t understand that, he’ll run Twitter into the ground trying to monetize it.
THE TRIVIA QUESTION
In honor of Halloween earlier this week: What was candy corn originally called?
Answer at the bottom.
HITTING THE LINKS
I mean I have always known/expected this sort of thing goes on. But man, what a peek into it. Amazon reviews are social media. And they’re manipulated just like other social media metrics are.
Reviews are important. Sales data is hard to come by, but higher ratings generally lead to higher sales, according to research from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which covered the 70 highest-selling categories and hundreds of thousands of individual products over a two-year time span. It’s not only about high ratings but also about visibility. Most folks won’t go beyond a page or two of search results, so if your product isn’t in there, you can forget about making a sale.
I appreciate Kaitlyn’s analysis of the social internet. And amid the hubbub about Twitter this week, she has an interesting piece that dives more deeply beyond the outrage and into the sociology of social media platforms.
Perhaps most important, Fiesler and Dym’s paper notes the “pull” factor of network effects. People will go where their friends and the people they’re interested in go, and they won’t go without them (which is exactly why centralized platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have stayed so powerful for so long). This is why fandom migrations might be considered a relevant example: They have the group cohesion and coordination to get a substantial number of people to move all at once.
Marques Brownlee is one of my very favorite YouTubers, and if you aren’t subscribed to him, you should be. He is the best tech reviewer and commentator out there, for sure. Here, after getting a hands-on experience with the new Meta VR device in the presence of Zuckerberg himself, MKBHD asks: “Who cares about this?” This video is a good, balanced perspective (as usual from Marques).
THE FUNNY PART
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