Bitclout, Clubhouse, and the Social Media Land Rush
After the passage of the Indian Appropriation Bill, President Benjamin Harrison declared that on April 22, 1889, at 12 o’clock noon the Unassigned Land of the Oklahoma territory would be open for settlement.
Under the direction of the US army, some sixty two thousand people lined up to claim space on the land that most Americans had assumed was unsuitable for settlement.
With the bang of a cannon they took off running and riding into the wide open land in front of them. A dizzying array of horses, carriages, and even people on foot.
The byproduct of this cannot be overstated.
Previously impoverished people suddenly owned farms. Settlers had land to build businesses and homes. Immigrants who’d set out in search of the American dream found it. Towns such as Oklahoma City and Guthrie sprung up overnight (literally).
It remains one of the greatest transfers of wealth in history.
Note – I would be remiss by not to acknowledge the fact that this came at the expense of the Indigenous American population. An estimated 12 million Indigenous people died, directly and indirectly, at the hands of the incoming European population between 1492 & 1900. The settlers were direct beneficiaries of the Indigenous peoples suffering. (More information: The Conversation)
There are parallels between settlers and early adopters of a social platform.
New platforms provide new riches.
Emerging platforms allow early adopters to build audiences before they’re oversaturated. Growing on more established platforms becomes increasingly difficult with time. A hierarchy already exists in those places, making upward upward mobility near impossible.
Look back at the organic reach of social platforms and you’ll see how this pattern repeats itself.
In 2006, the median number of views per video on YouTube was 10,262. Ten years later that number plunged to 89. An early adopter of YouTube got 115 times the amount of views their counterparts uploading ten years later would receive.
On Facebook, you can see the same pattern. Organic reach plummeted from 16% in 2012 to less than two percent.
As platforms get bigger they become more saturated. Big creators get bigger and those that are new to the platform have trouble getting noticed at all.
Consumers have become savvy to this cycle.
As a result, people are diving headfirst into new platforms such as Clubhouse, Fireside, and Bitclout.
In a Vox interview, comedian and activist Baratunde Thurston pointed out that many, “[Clubhouse users] feel like they missed the boat on breaking through on Instagram.”
As a result, its common to see growth hacks such as rooms designed for the sole purpose of cross-promotion. People joining rooms to just to add a quick comment, then staying onstage for hours on end just to get their profile noticed.
Things on Bitclout are being taken even further. For the uninitiated Bitclout is a stock exchange for people, but with social media functionality. Nasdaq described it as:
“Social media on a blockchain (like Hive, Steem or Cent). It also generates social tokens (like Roll or Rally), which represent actual people. Those social tokens’ supplies are controlled by automated market makers (like Uniswap or Curve), though one governed by a bonding curve that explicitly ratchets up the value as more tokens get minted.”Nasdaq
Just a few weeks old users are investing heavily in audience development. They want to carve out their piece of digital real estate while it is undervalued.
Many users are explicitly incentivizing users to ‘invest’ and follow their profiles. For example, Pamela Anderson just joined and offered her top 3 coin holders a signed copy of her last Playboy cover.
Many of these early adopters will flourish. As the platforms grow it will be easier for them to grow with it (I’m on Bitclout if you want to give me a follow).
Brands on the other hand, will largely miss out on the benefits of being early.
Marketers tend to double down on tried and true strategies. 99.9% would opt to increase an Instagram ad spend over taking a risk on a new platform.
Brands that do embrace uncertainty reap the rewards.
At the start of the pandemic Skincare brand PeaceOut Wrinkles adopted SMS to reach existing customers. It became their second highest sales driver and accounted for 21% of their total e-commerce revenue. They saw a 780% ROI and revenue per SMS subscriber was 52X higher than email. This all happened within the first month.
PeaceOut no longer focuses on email, a medium far more saturated than text. Instead, they focus on SMS which is comparatively untapped by brands.
Of course, there is more risk in investing in newer platforms, but the potential reward is massive. It is an asymmetric bet. A successful early adopter sees exponential gains. Late adopters see marginal gains. History repeats itself (and we should learn from it). New platforms emerge, early adopters reap the rewards, the market becomes saturated, the process repeats.
So what can you do?
Invest in continuous exploration. You may come across uncharted land to claim and grow.
In order to identify platforms that can offer new benefits you have to break away from the pack. You can play it safe or you can make huge returns– often, those are mutually exclusive. By throwing ourselves into these emerging spaces we can generate a disproportionate amount of value. This is where the future lies.