Remember when Instagram (et al) changed?
We used to have chronological timelines. Then they f**cked it all up and introduced algorithmic timelines.
People hated it. I hated it. Except it was better.
When we first launched in 2010, Instagram was a single stream of photos in chronological order. But as more people joined and more was shared, it became impossible for most people to see everything, let alone all the posts they cared about. By 2016, people were missing 70% of all their posts in Feed, including almost half of posts from their close connections. So we developed and introduced a Feed that ranked posts based on what you care about most.
Algorithmic timelines are better for content-consumers, but what about content-creators?
Suddenly my summer thirstrap posted on Sunday (6pm) wasn’t guaranteed to hit all my followers — the algorithm would show it to a small segment, and based on their engagement, rank it accordingly on everyone else’s feed.
But I abandoned thirstraps and started making podcasts instead. When I’d post snippets of these on Twitter, some would kill and some would tank.
First this was confusing and kind of annoying. But then I clocked: This is the greatest data mining opportunity in history.
Because social media algorithms (and their engagement analytics) are like running daily focus groups on my content.
Instead of posting a full podcast episode and getting 0 feedback (save the occasional review
), I can post a 30s clip and get immediate market feedback.
We go through the futile process of asking for opinions and fish for compliments because we crave approval. We want to believe that the support and sign-off of someone we respect means our venture will succeed. But really, that person’s opinion doesn’t matter. They have no idea if the business is going to work. Only the market knows. You’re searching for the truth, not trying to be right. And you want to do it as quickly and cheaply as possible. Learning that your beliefs are wrong is frustrating, but it’s progress. It’s bringing you ever closer to the truth of a real problem and a good market.
🧠 What’s my point?: Social media networks offer unbelievable data mining opportunities.