THE ADVICE I HATE
I’m trying not to be the old man yelling at a cloud. But hear me out.
Here’s one of the tips I’ve grown to resent while promoting stuff on various social media sites: “Find out what the platform wants and make your content to help it achieve its goals.”
Okay, I get it. Companies have goals and they’re competing with other platforms. When a younger demographic latches on to something like TikTok, that shapes everything else. Now Instagram is all about reels, not pictures.
It’s always been the case that you have to shape your work into a form that fits the medium. Sherlock Holmes was released in newspapers as a serial. So was Charles Dickens’ work. In the 20th Century, our televisions hacked away at our attention spans a bit more. Image overcame the written word.
Then TikTok took our attention and slaughtered it out behind a Chinese Restaurant one night in Detroit while everyone was watching the Superbowl.
Even though you get a full minute worth of time on an Instagram reel or a YouTube short, the audience typically ditches after 13 seconds. So everything has to be fast-paced, loud, and in your face to keep that precious audience retention the soulless AI wants in order distribute the next thing you post.
SHORT ISN’T ENOUGH
But wait! Did you pick the right song for your truncated masterpiece? Oh, that’s a factor too. If you choose a song from the library of things available, but it’s not one the platform is trying to promote, guess what? You ain’t goin’ nowhere, kid.
So, instead of merely shaping your work to fit a medium, now Charles Dickens has to release one sentence at a time and include the latest profundity from Cardi B.
And yet, you have to play the game to some degree. You have to go out, check your pride, shake your fist at the cloud, then post an 8-second clip of your hand coloring in a face while you help Kayne’s latest masterpiece gets the promotion it clearly deserves.
And you hope that as you do so, those precious souls that consist of your true audience latch on and dive into what you’re really trying to do.5