With the recent layoffs at Twitter and Meta, John Brasington writes on the importance of platform diversity.
Firstly, my sympathy to those laid off from Meta and Twitter. It’s a horrible situation to be in.
Today I want to talk about the fragility of systems, and the importance of diversity in platforms, data sources, tools, and skills.
The simple truth is that when you build up an offering, a service or a skill set around another service, namely one you don’t own, and particularly digital ones – then you must be prepared for it to cease to exist, or change so drastically it become worthless.
Anyone who was working in and around the web during the dotcom bubble will tell you this with a kind of cynical glee. Hedge your bets, prepare for the worst, nothing lasts forever, good luck.
There are many catalysts for change and destruction, but I’d say the three main ones are:
- Businesses fail
- Legislation – see GDPR
- Algorithms– There are countless websites that made all their money through Google Search. The algorithms change and the businesses go bust. Content creators have found their YouTube revenue wiped out by a change in how advertising revenue is shared.
From a career perspective, being prepared for the worst may be easier said than done, but the idea is simple enough.
- Don’t focus solely (forever at least) on a single platform
- Pick up transferable skills
- Learn other skills
From a service offering or agency perspective this is challenging for. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Twitter were to crumble:
Several challengers have begun to spring up like mastodon.social and so assume one succeeds and grows to significance.
A social media consultant can adapt, many of the principles will be the same, and so it will be a quick learning curve, with nuances to learn.
But a B2B software platform that repackages data from Twitter and sells it on will be in a serious situation. The data may be entirely different, or even inaccessible. APIs, scrapers, all could be redundant or take untenable investment to resolve.
A B2B platform that sells multiple datasets is in a much better place. They’re set up to deal with disparate data sets. They can adapt faster.
Agencies shock insulation will vary drastically. There’s a lot to consider; software reliance, employee expertise, contracts to fulfil, client services based on tools or capabilities. It’s hugely varied.
I think the approach we take here is a wise one. There is so much rich data out there, and it can always be adapted, jury rigged, or hacked together to get us excellent insight into culture and audiences. If Twitter or Meta just died one day, it would be painful. I’d certainly have a bad week.
So, what to do? Plan for every possible scenario? Sure, if you’ve got the time. But I’d just say at a minimum, bring a little bit of that dotcom cynicism.