In a standardized web, creativity will always be rewarded

In 2007: a decentralized sector less saturated with content

BDM celebrates its 15th anniversary. When we launched in 2007, the web looked very different. We were using Windows XP and Internet Explorer. Our friends shared their stories on MySpace, on their Skyblog and even on Facebook. We sent Wizz on MSN and the 1st iPhone, without 3G or App Store, was unveiled by Apple. Google already dominated other search engines, but Yahoo seemed to resist. The actors were gaining in power, but their services still stood out clearly.

At that time, creators and brands did not have so many tools. We had to tinker to create and distribute content. The audience was smaller: only 54% of French people had Internet access. But the competition between information was also less important than today. This context rewarded those who succeeded in creating their own content and hosting it, often on their own websites.

In 2022: a sector marked by well-established monopolies

In 15 years, we have witnessed a great 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 the majority of 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 are holding up the best. Because they were able to offer something new and impose their formats. Meta copied them, but they succeeded in retaining creators and a strong audience. In France, Snapchat is used by 94% of 15-24 year olds. TikTok’s audience has almost doubled in 2 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. Now, the platforms support all of these steps, for most of the dominant formats. The specifics fade away. Want to create short vertical videos? There’s no longer an app for that: 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 there. And the content seen by users even more: network algorithms create well-defined bubbles. Just watch a lot of skiing videos on TikTok to see even more skiing videos on TikTok. It was already clear on Facebook, this feeling seems even more obvious here. In 2007, the singularity of content was undoubtedly more marked than today.

Mimicry to succeed in the short term

Content that “breaks through” obtains good results despite, at times, a glaring lack of creativity. Who remembers the “double-click dolphin jump” posts on LinkedIn? It only took one person having this idea, succeeding in gaining visibility – and showing some creativity here, for thousands of others in turn to be “inspired” by it to turn their eyes. on them. It doesn’t add anything, but it inflates some vanity metrics and some egos. The creator behind this series will have been able to observe the functioning of algorithms (and the flaws of those of LinkedIn) to take advantage of them. Followers will have noticed that very often, the platforms are still very poor at promoting original content with high added value. They then jump at the chance to obtain a certain visibility, which can only be limited in time.

We talk a lot about the role of platforms, but Google is not left out. Despite all its algorithms, despite its domination, despite “artificial intelligence”, it still seems overwhelmed by the experts, those who observe its operation to pull on the right strings and position themselves well. Just look at how strangely similar the contents of some results pages are. Tools like 1.fr or YourTextGuru too often push us to aim “ what Google expects » rather than “what users really expect”. The 2nd result does not bring much more than the 1st, reinforcing this tendency that users have to be satisfied with the data of the 1st result.

A little boldness for long-term success

The picture drawn is fortunately duller than reality. And we can detach ourselves from it. Especially in the long run, we have to. Algorithms are constantly improving, discrepancies are spotted faster and faster, techniques that impoverish the value of content too. It is in the interests of platforms and engines, which need it to attract ever more users.

Many brands and creators have understood this. Understanding the mechanisms that influence the visibility of content is important, but nothing will replace audacity, nothing will replace creativity. In the long run, a brand will be remembered positively for its original designs and inventiveness; not for his ability to look away by forcing a little.

This goes for companies and creators: they already have to stand out to attract brands and listening users. Praising the same dropshipping products as all his reality TV comrades is undoubtedly profitable in the short term; but users will quickly turn away from it, and when there is no more audience, there are not many interested brands.

In a digital world governed by imperfect algorithms, optimization gets results; But that is not enough. Think users, think long term. Go back to the fundamentals of creation, to research, to experimentation. Keep a space of freedom, an openness, a will, dare to be different, create your identity. Stand out. Do your users, your customers have expectations? Listen to their needs, respond to them. And offer something more. It won’t always work, but sometimes you’ll get it right. You will be recognizable, in the midst of too similar competitors. In a web saturated with standardized content, creativity will always be rewarded.

We wish to thank the author of this post for this outstanding content

In a standardized web, creativity will always be rewarded


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