Issues with social media and “walled gardens”

I had gone on an experimentation spree after discussing it with my gynaecologist colleague about amplifying her reach beyond Instagram. Her issue (like mine) was the lack of time to share and express using specific social media channels while retaining complete control over the “creative process”. Deep dive searches to automate/ auto-post was revealing.

It doesn’t cost anything for Instagram to allow posting of pictures through RSS; if they wish. They won’t. It hurts their metric of user engagement (which is the only one for their fancy valuation) and gives them the heft. Most users have made a conscious shift towards short form video formats like TikTok (which has an astounding AI algorithm to understand user tastes and comes tops as far as recommendation goes). This had prompted a “redesign” and launch of “Reels”. Images are being “sidelined” in favour of videos. Likewise, for Pinterest, that disallows automated posting and has based its entire business around the catchy “buzz words of individual pronouns”. Each one wants to shift their focus to transactional platforms by displaying “advertising metrics”. How effective are they? The jury is still out.

Photo by Marjan on

This has led to an increase of tools for “marketing managers” (I am not including it here) to schedule and automate – though it still requires manual intervention. It’s a valid business, but with preferential API access that allows them to post (and charge money to end users) in the process. This apart, it still doesn’t allow any automation layer- like posting through specific RSS feeds or using automated layer like IFTTT.

Photo by Pixabay on

I also experimented with Discord (the latest flavour of the season), where anyone and everyone is rushing towards it. Their placements in NYT almost sound too benevolent, where the owners cross their hearts about “moderation”. How can you have moderation at scale? Any “customisation” on Discord requires a subscription or a “Nitro-Boost”, and that is if you can figure out its horrible Slack like UI called “channels”. It boots a terrible search (and has been rued by several forum members) because these walled gardens make it difficult to index anything worthwhile.

Slack has shifted its focus on enterprise, and the “email-killer” will die a slow haemorrhaging death in the catacombs of enterprise bureaucracy. It became a “go-to” resource for start-ups and is taken as a status-symbol. A “me-too” resource that offers next to nothing in productivity, although it has a significant library of enterprise “cross-connections”. I guess, that’s where they burnt up the investor’s piggy-bank and then ran out of ideas and then sold it.

Photo by Disha Sheta on

Telegram offers the best resource for amplification-easy to manage large specific groups, communities, channels for broadcast, open bot-API and a first-class native-first approach towards all computing platforms. As such, the bots themselves work as “extensions”. For example, even though Giphy is inaccessible for the Gif search through the official Telegram resource (it uses Tenor to cache GIF responses), you can add bots to search Giphy Search. I prefer to use IFTTT, and there’s a close equivalent called FeedReaderBot that can easily interface with Twitter too. It involves a learning curve, but is rewarding in the end.

While this may sound like a rant, it is. I haven’t veered towards decentralized platforms (or WhatsApp). It was a learning experience. I did manage to create numerous IFTTT applets and move around my posts to maximise the reach. IFTTT allows some automation, and I was lucky to stick to their grandfathered premium pricing (the costs have increased significantly).

Use Social Media wisely. It is a time-suck methodology, and you need to get better control over inputs and outputs. Sometimes, I am tempted to push out the “hacks”, but I have gone around in a round-about way-it will require a significant investment of my time to drill it down to basics. You can easily learn making IFTTT applets. I use them extensively to automate my Twitter account and use it with my bookmarking service of choice-Raindrop. It exceeds anything I have worked with (including pinboard-which I have retained for legacy reasons).

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