A proposal: a social network owned by creators

Social networks have three assets: a network effect (so we can connect with people), content moderation (so we can actually enjoy using it), content (so we have something to enjoy/consume).

The content creators have always been at the bottom of the stack. Underpaid and under-appreciated," by the social network owners.

So what if we made a Twitter owned by us?

There’s a turning tide against Twitter and Meta towards Mastodon, and honestly Mastodon is pretty good. It’s decentralised in that you can sign up to any Mastodon server/instance and talk to other people on other instances, that’s called federation. It’s one of the tentpole features of Mastodon. Federation, or the fediverse, means you can sign up to, for example, the @mastodon.social instance and if I’m in @aus.social, we can talk to each other.

But if we’re both on the same instance there’s some nice ways of discovering other people and other content, in particular discovering people and content on the same server.

Plus the instance you choose to be on has a brand story. If you’re communicating how to find and follow you on Mastodon there’s a branding aspect. Imagine saying on a podcast “follow me at Josh at Mastodon dot social” as opposed to “follow me at Josh at cool name dot com.” It can’t be long until corporations and large brands take the opportunity to start their own instance.

So what if content creators got in early and had our own network?

That’s my proposal, to start a Mastodon instance owned and run by content creators. Podcasters, writers, newsletter writers, vloggers, video makers, photographers, personalities, broadcasters - creators. Because we’d own the network we’d reap the benefits, instead of sending them to VCs, corporations, or Elon Musk/Zuckerberg.

Because all the creators have existing networks - and products - we’d flex our influence to bring audiences to the new network. Also, in case it’s not obvious, nothing will be taken away from your existing work. What changes is that instead of providing Twitter and Meta with free content that upholds the network effect that feeds their shareholders/stakeholders, you’re providing free content to build and uphold your own network that operates like a co-op content farmers market.

I own the domain name ‘theradio.au’ and I reckon it’d be kind of cool to say ‘follow me at Josh at theradio dot au’ in a video or a link o my profile being theradio.au/@josh … or insert your content brand in place of Josh.

I like the generic-ish name, and the idea of “I’m on the radio” as a term of phrase for using the social media platform, particularly as actually being on the FM/AM radio means so little.

I’m open to listening to ideas around how to start, run, and do this well. There are costs to running a Mastdon instance and because the benefits run to creators I’d look to creators to fund the project. With enough people it might be $50-100 a year, and I see the incentives run in the right direction if creators fund and own it. Other business models lend themselves to other incentives and next minute you’re owned by Elon Musk.

Weigh in on the social platform of your choice or email me at [email protected].