Status as a Service. Part 3
Eugene Wei, 2019-02-19
Status Games are Here to Stay
Most people are competing for status in various contexts. They may think/claim to be above this all, but it’s statistically doubtful.
Most tech companies are always going to be weak at social. The more technical they are, the less they can deal with despised status games. Focus on utility instead.
Amazon was able to turn the status (“top 100 reviewer”) into a badge of honour —> increase sales.
Head in the Sand
It’s possible to A/B the feed algorithm to increase engagement, but do SMNs know if engagements are positive or negative? Any cultural bias between regional algorithms?
SMN dashboards are averaging things without digging deeper into the health.
SMN managers are very disconnected from users and have very different needs.
How to Spot Social Capital?
If you can ask your neighbour for milk or to babysit – that’s social capital.
Right now the ability to monetize the social capital (exchange for financial capital) is a good way to spot it. Tangible value. Influencers, anyone?
And the opposite: buying followers hoping for an arbitrage: buy cheap, monetize for more.
In Asia SMNs help with monetizing content without leaving the platform (ex: digital gifts).
Another way is introducing your own product based on the social brand.
Managing influencers is also a business.
Social Capital Accumulation and Storage
Ability to accumulate and store social capital is essential, otherwise value leaks to other SMNs.
If the service is free, the best alternative to direct monetization is creating a marketplace for realizing and exchanging value.
Global scoring: followers get more valuable over time (friends of friends).
Local scoring: some sort of likes (accumulate faster than followers), comments and shares. Continuous short-term capital injections.
Anonymous networks: social capital can’t be accumulated due to lack of attribution and often hateful content.
For SMNs allowing exporting users’ social graphs is silly (diminishes value); for users – huge inconvenience; —> forces SMNs to focus more on utility and entertainment.
Since social capital is generally non-transferable between SMNs, users abandon networks where their status diminishes.
Celebrity apps do nothing to increase users’ social capital.
One-to-many communication, no feedback. Just a distribution channel.
Social Capital Arbitrage
Copying/stealing others’ content from other SMNs and passing as yours may work for a while, but often results in backlash.
Attempt to build status off someone else’s work. [MK: honestly, with my course notes I don’t.]
Social Capital Games as Temporary Energy Sources
Curation of good content is always needed —> offer rewards for surfacing it.
Reviews (up to a certain number) are always needed, hence rewarded.
Individual status as a “top reviewer” is now devalued by the total number of reviews (no need to use authority anymore).
Many achievements (“top seller”, etc.) are gamed, so they stop being valuable.
IMDb and Wikipedia also rely on altruism.
Twitter killed traditional humour, now it’s memes and punchlines. Often the joke setup is common knowledge/culture.
Prisma vs Instagram: Prisma made photos too good, almost independent on the photographer —> the main actor is the filter, not the person.
Facebook’s proof of work initially was the @harvard.edu email, a strong status filter to sift out others.
Always on in search of social capital —> FOMO —> people feel miserable regardless of their $ net worth.