On audience capture and fast food content
It's in my nature to worry about things and there are many important things I am worried about right now but I want to focus on one of the least important on my list for the moment and that is the growing phenomenon of audience capture.
I don't know who came up with the term/definition first. It's certainly not something I invented. Audience capture is basically self pigeonholing as a result of finding something that "works" as a creator. This is something almost everyone that is creating content can experience. It doesn't matter if you're a writer, a painter or a vlogger. It can happen to everyone. The idea is that at the beginning, we're all unknowns, pushed by this desire to create and make something worth sharing. We're free to explore. But once we start to form an audience, this free spirit starts to get supplanted by a more considerate approach to content creation. And we start asking those silly questions: will my audience like this content? Is this good for my brand? Should I post this piece of media on a separate platform and keep my main site "clean"? The moment we start asking ourselves those questions, we are, as iOS autocorrect would say it, ducked.
Because at that point the outcome has become more important than the process. We have decided to give away our creative and intellectual freedom in order to achieve fame or money. Or in the extreme cases we're seeing people also giving away their health or their relationships in order to achieve that same result.
All that is stupid. And it's a phenomenon that is getting more and more relevant in today's web. It's a phenomenon that also goes hand to hand with something I jokingly like to refer to as fast food content.
Fast food is not good food. We can all agree on that. I'm not talking taste here, I'm talking about being healthy and good quality. If you don't agree with me, send me an email so we can fight over the internet. But what's "good" about it is that it's comforting. In most cases, you know what to expect, meal after meal. And, similarly to the audience capture phenomenon, you're usually surprised and confused when a food changes. Because it was not what you were expecting.
I see a lot of that on the web sadly. People who once had something to say that are now trapped in an endless cycle of recycled content, month after month, year after year, saying the same thing, over and over and over again. Not because they want to, but because they have to. Because you have to put up a new video or a new blog post. Even if you don't really have anything to say you have to say something. Recycling what you said last year is the fastest way to put something out there. And after a few years it's time to recycle the same content once again, but this time in a book. And after a few books you can compile everything in a best of. Then the cycle continues which is frankly depressing.
I sadly see no solution to this. Because once money is involved, it becomes a job. And we all need to have a job after all. If you're a content creator, of any kind, please, keep experimenting. Keep being creative and don't stop once you find something that works. Keep exploring.