The Sharing Economy is NOT Big. Part 5. Collaborative Content Creation: Social Media

Oct 14, 2016 · 6 min read
Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Updated April 7, 2019

Since communicating is by it’s nature collaborative, it’s not hard to imagine that social media platforms are also. If we look at Facebook alone, we see so many instances of people collaborating to do things besides sharing content. There are local marketplaces, event invitations and carpooling pages to name a few.

By definition, a platform is something that creates an eco-system for creators and users to exchange value. On social media platforms what’s shared is ideas and emotions in the form of articles, posts, pictures, videos, likes, and comments. All falling under the general category of user-generated content (UGC).

  • Social media sites are partially communications platforms.
  • Social media sites match content creators and consumers.
  • They match app creators to app consumers through their API.
  • They also help democratize the means for creating media.

Because of this Facebook and all of social media is part of the collaborative economy. It’s an information sharing platform. But it’s not completely part of the sharing economy because monetization happens primarily through advertising.

Sharing on social media networks results in UGC for the platform and this content draws in more people and thus creates a virtuous cycle. Facebook Photos, the world’s largest collection of pictures is the result of billions of people working collaboratively, even though it’s not their intention to do so. Almost all of the site's content is a by-product of this collaboration.

Facebook has a market cap of $342 billion. Snapchat is worth $18 billion. Pintrest $11 billion. G+ is some fraction of Googles $502 billion market cap. LinkedIn was bought for $26 billion and Twitter is at $11.69 billion. It’s safe to say that social media is one of the largest movements the internet has ever seen.


Part of the reason why traditional media is dying is because of social media. Blogs and social networks are killing the newspaper, TV, and movie business.

When the tools of creation are democratized people develop a preference for the new type of media or the new distribution model.

Since the eyeballs have moved to the social networks, so have the advertising dollars. Adweek’s Power List is now topped by Facebook, Google and Apple, not Ogilvy and Mather, Saatchi and Saatchi or Omnicom. Facebook reached a $300 billion valuation faster than any other company in history. It’s not only changed business, but also politics, social interactions, and privacy.

Six degrees of separation have been reduced. In 2011 the distance between any two people on Facebook was 4.74 and it’s shrinking. Social media will further facilitate the sharing economy because it’s a platform that has acquired a lot of trust. This trust is continuously leveraged by companies like Airbnb to lubricate transactions that probably wouldn’t happen if there wasn’t a way to check someone out a bit before letting them rent your home.


Snapchat is everybody’s new favorite social network. Because snaps are candid, personal, immediate and impermanent; they feel more like real life than other social media platforms. “We’re trying to get rid of these weird boxes that we put media into and get to the essence of conversation — that we’re both here, says Evan Spiegel, Snapchat CEO. This immediacy is going to be the future of social media.

Snapchat is still the most recent major innovation in social media interaction design. Since Snapchat social media became more personal and camera first. These were the most important differentiators.

The camera taking up the whole screen made peoples faces appear larger. By forcing you to look at one image at a time it felt more like a conversation. The fact that the messages disappeared removed the fear of making mistakes. In real life, conversations don’t leave permanent records.

To do this they disposed of the feed as the primary interface for viewing content. Instead, it’s a full-screen video. The focus on video gives the interactions more life. Making them more engaging than a still picture in a jumble of text. An artful design that accomplished exactly what it set out to do.

The gamification through QR codes and filters added a layer of fun that didn’t exist anywhere else. This is why now these type of features are becoming the new face of social media.

Camera-first is a profound change in the use of a mobile device.

It seems people want their digital ties to be closer. Several messaging and social media platforms are offering more privacy and warmer connections. The ‘always public’ face of social media will change into something that’s more about the strength of the relationship. More about trust. And this is important because the sharing economy is built on trust that is mediated by social media profiles. For the on-demand labor force, reputation is one of the most important metrics. This includes social media profiles, reviews and ratings.

Video will continue to grow as the most popular form of content. It is the preferred way to consume media on social media and online in general. The format is extremely flexible.

A video can be a course, message, webinar, music video, UGC, or a product review. This is why it’s so popular. And it’s always more engaging than still pictures.

Voice first will continue to grow. This will be enabled by hardware like Amazon’s Echo and wearables like Apple’s new AirPods. The audio experience online is getting richer. More podcasts, voice notes, speeches, lectures, and conversations with machines. More of this form of content will spill into social media platforms.

The global market for voice search devices grew 187% in the Q2 of 2018. Canalys

AI will continue to tweak your feed to get you the best possible results. And Facebook is planning to add a virtual assistant. The wealth of data on social networks will continue to improve the capabilities of artificial intelligence. All of search and discovery is powered by AI. So is targeted advertising, spam filters, and fighting trolls.

In 2018, Facebook acquired Bloomsbury AI to ramp up its NLP (Natural Language Processing) in order to combat fake news and tackle inappropriate content issues.

Social will start to incorporate more AR and VR content. As these gain more adoption, new platforms that are native to these technologies will crop up to challenge the incumbents. AR and VR will enable remote and virtual experiences that have not been imagined yet.

Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram will continue to dominate in the states. The integration of Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram will only strengthen the suites position.

Facebooks ability to re-invent itself repeatedly will work in it’s favor as it attempts to become more like WeChat.

The goals of social media are ambitious. It’s taking socializing, and turning it into a digital experience. Because of this, there will all always be many experiments in this space. For every Twitter and Pinterest, there are a few Meetups, Nings,, and other specialized single-purpose platforms. Luckily, more of these are going to crop up to keep things interesting.

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