The Shelf Life of a Social Network Post

Posts on social networking sites can be like feathers in the wind; you never know just how far they’ll spread. A simple share or like by an influential person or page can take a post that’s months old, and turn it viral; but for most posts, according to a study done by Bitly, they have about three hours to get their message across before they disappear (interestingly, YouTube is anomalous here; links shared from YouTube tend to last around seven hours before fading away).

A graph showing the shelf life of a Bitly post.

A graph showing the shelf life of a Bitly post.

If you’re sending out an important message about your business, that leaves you with two options (or three, if you consider posting your message as a YouTube video an option): pay to boost your post, or keep reposting your message again and again to try and reach as many people as possible. As a small business, it can be near impossible to make your voice heard over discriminatory algorithms and the noise of an endlessly refreshing newsfeed.

Having your own social network increases the shelf life of your posts drastically – there’s just not as much to compete with. It helps you to ensure that your messages are getting to the people who care about your business, and what you’re doing – without having to pay extra.

Outsourcing Censorship: Who Cleans Up Your Social Network’s Feed?

To keep offensive content out of our newsfeeds, social networking sites can employ one of two strategies: they can “active moderate”(screening every single post uploaded), or they can rely on their users to report anything suspicious or unsavory, and pass those reports over to content moderators. Larger sites like Twitter and Facebook tend to use the latter strategy and, given the sheer number of reported posts daily, it’s understandable that they’d decide to outsource moderation of reported content.

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Image via Tony Adams on Flickr.

Many of the people who spend their days looking through reported content are horrendously underpaid international contractors, making as little as one dollar per hour plus commissions (estimated to bring their average rate of pay up to four dollars an hour). They’re often highly educated and must pass a stringent English test in order to gain the role. Most content moderators end up leaving the role due to the psychological damage caused by hours of looking through incredibly disturbing content, from beheadings to animal torture. On-shore workers are better paid and can have very good physical working conditions, but still end up suffering greatly from what they have to look through each day: in an interview with Wired, a US based former content moderator describes developing depression and problems with alcohol as a result of the videos he was moderating for YouTube.

While Facebook’s public documentation keeps its content guidelines relatively vague, they’re laid out in explicit detail for its content moderators. A Moroccan contractor recently released his copy to Gawker, and its seventeen pages are divided into sections like “sex and nudity”, “hate content” and “graphic content.” Cartoon urine is okay, real urine is not. Deep flesh wounds and blood are okay, mothers breastfeeding is not. Some posts are judged on their context, rather than their content (eg, videos of animal abuse are okay as long as the person who posted it clearly thinks animal abuse is wrong). Strangely, all photoshopped content (whether positive, negative or neutral) is approved for deletion.

When you think about it, it’s concerning how little most social media users know about the rules they are expected to follow, or about the people and processes involved in enforcing those rules. One of the major benefits of starting your own social network is that you’re playing by your own rules – and you know exactly what those rules are. You decide what is acceptable, and what is not; both in terms of common decency, and keeping your community on-message.

Survival of the Social Media Fittest

The internet food chain: survival of the biggest?

The internet food chain: survival of the biggest?

We’ve all seen the rise and fall of major social networks – MySpace was a place for friends, until all your friends moved over to Bebo, before they moved over to Facebook, and then some of them decided to head over to Ello.

The history of social networking (as distinct from social media) tells us that co-existing isn’t an option; that you want to be where all of your friends are, that new social networks succeed through mass migration – that it’s survival of the fittest, and the biggest.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Creating a social network doesn’t have to be about trying to win the game these internet giants have created – it can simply be a choice to play your own game, with your own rules.

Having your own social network on your own website doesn’t mean foregoing Facebook, just like inviting someone to your own private dinner party doesn’t mean they can’t go to a rave with thousands of people later that week. You can take advantage of the breadth you get advertising on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, while using your own corner of the web to have in-depth conversations about what really matters to you and your business.