In 2007: a decentralized sector less saturated with content
BDM celebrates its 15th anniversary. When it was launched in 2007, the web had a very different look. We were using Windows XP and Internet Explorer. Our friends shared their stories on MySpace, their Skyblog, and even Facebook. We sent Wizz to MSN and the first iPhone, without 3G or App Store, was introduced by Apple. Google already dominated other search engines, but Yahoo seemed to resist. The actors were gaining power, but their services still stood out clearly.
Back then, creators and brands didn’t have as many tools. We had to drag to create and distribute content. The audience was smaller: only 54% of French people had access to the Internet. But competition between information was also less important than it is today. This context rewarded those who managed to create their own content and host it, often on their own websites.
In 2022: a sector marked by consolidated monopolies
In 15 years we have witnessed a large concentration of content on increasingly powerful platforms. Facebook is the symbol.
- Instagram stood out, Facebook bought it.
- Snapchat and TikTok innovated, Facebook copied them.
Meta now centralizes most content and exchanges on the web with Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook, the social network that everyone likes to criticize but which still brings together nearly 3 billion people.
Snapchat and TikTok are the two platforms that hold up best. Because they were able to offer something new and impose their formats. Meta copied them, but they managed to retain creators and a strong audience. In France, 94% of young people aged 15 to 24 use Snapchat. TikTok’s audience has almost doubled in two years to reach one billion users. A first clue that shows the importance of invention, creativity and daring.
The perverse effect of algorithms on creativity
In 2007 we moved from one tool to another to create, host, monetize, and distribute content. Platforms now support all of these steps, for most dominant formats. The details are fading. Want to create short vertical videos? There is no longer an app for this: you can use TikTok, Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts. And in any case, you can do everything without leaving the application of your choice.
The functionalities of the platforms are very similar. Also the content that is there. And the content seen by users even more: network algorithms create well-defined bubbles. Just watch many TikTok ski videos to see even more TikTok ski videos. On Facebook it was clear, this feeling seems even more evident here. In 2007, the uniqueness of the content was certainly more marked than today.
Mimicry for short-term success
Content that is “left over” gets good results despite sometimes a blatant lack of creativity. Who remembers the “double-click dolphin jump” posts on LinkedIn? It only took one person to get that idea, gain visibility, and show a little creativity here, so that thousands of others in turn would be “inspired” by it to turn their eyes to them. It adds nothing but inflates some vanity metrics and some egos. The creator of this series will have been able to observe the operation of the algorithms (and the defects of those of LinkedIn) to take advantage of them. Followers will have noticed that, very often, platforms are still very poor when it comes to promoting high value-added original content. Then they jump at the chance to gain some visibility, which can only be limited in time.
We talk a lot about the role of platforms, but Google is no exception. Despite all its algorithms, despite its mastery, despite its “artificial intelligence”, it still seems overwhelmed by experts, those who observe its operation to stretch the right strings and position themselves well. Look at how strangely similar the contents of some results pages are. Tools like 1.fr or YourTextGuru often push us to aim ” what does Google expect » instead of “what users really expect”. The 2nd result does not contribute much more than the 1st, reinforcing this trend that users must be satisfied with the data of the 1st result.
A little audacity for long-term success
Fortunately, drawing is more boring than reality. And we can detach ourselves from that. Especially in the long run, we have to do it. Algorithms are constantly improving, discrepancies are being detected more and more quickly, techniques that also impoverish the value of content. It is in the interest of platforms and engines, which need it to attract more and more users.
Many brands and creators have understood this. Understanding the mechanisms that influence content visibility is important, but nothing will replace audacity, nothing will replace creativity. In the long run, a brand will be positively remembered for its original and inventive designs; not because of his ability to look away forcibly.
This is the case with companies and creators: they already have to stand out to attract brands and users who listen. Praising the same dropshipping products as all your reality peers is certainly profitable in the short term; but users will get away with it quickly, and when there is no more audience, there aren’t many interested brands.
In a digital world ruled by imperfect algorithms, optimization gets results; But that is not enough. Think users, think long term. Return to the basics of creation, research, experimentation. Save a space of freedom, an openness, a will, dare to be different, create your identity. Stand out. Do your users and customers have expectations? Listen to their needs, respond to them. And offer something more. It won’t always work, but sometimes you will. You will be recognizable, among too many similar competitors. On a web saturated with standardized content, creativity will always be rewarded.