Social Platforms That Inspire Creation

Cutting through the noise…

What to do next?

Until recently, I’ve been extremely hesitant to commit to any social media platform. Despite the power and enjoyment these platforms can unlock, the potential time-wasting and addiction that can tag along have kept me experimental at best.

Yesterday I watched Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin debate around this very topic:

Gary and Seth hashing it out…

Interestingly, their perspectives were in complete opposition and lead to the following takeaway:

There is no universal stance on if and how to use social media platforms, it’s purely a personal decision.

Listen…social media platforms are amazing inventions, I’m confident they will be a cornerstone of our next evolutionary leap as a species. That being said, they can be difficult to wrap your head around and, if not contained, can lead to stress and overwhelm. They shouldn’t be used simply because they exist, the decision should be intentional.

When looking at my own experiences on social media, it’s clear certain platforms inspire me while others cause stress. Why is this? From my perspective, there’s a key differentiator between social platforms that might explain this:

Certain platforms, by their very nature, encourage users to create original content.

I call these creation platforms, examples being Instagram, Medium and Anchor. Since these platforms are built for a very specific purpose, it’s hard to be confused about how to use them. Sure you can like and share but that’s secondary to their primary functions:

  • Instagram = take a photo or video.
  • Medium = write a story.
  • Anchor = speak your thoughts.

The expectations of each platform is singular and obvious. Users don’t have to decide how they want to use it, it’s been done already and the apps are set up so it’s hard to do anything but. Believe it or not, this removes a huge barrier to the creation process. If Seth were to use a platform, I believe it would be a creation platform (pretty sure he’s on Medium ;).

No explanation needed…I hope.

On the other end, you have Facebook and Twitter. Although incredibly powerful, I’m believe they suffer from usage ambiguity. Since users can do virtually anything with the platform, they either opt-out completely (a la the paradox of choice) or use it however it occurs to them. On a grande scale, the latter leads to inconsistent and possibly inappropriate usage across the platform. Talk about noise…

The tricky part is this ambiguity doesn’t apply to all users — power users like Gary leverage these platforms appropriately and effectively. Why? He is intentional about learning the platform’s capabilities and determining the rules of engagement. Here’s the reality though:

Average users are not interested in learning platforms, they simply want to share their stories, their art and creations.

The reason I believe Instagram, Medium and (soon) Anchor will win is because a much larger set of users (the average users) can leverage them effectively without having to learn a lot. It’s not difficult to use Facebook and Twitter, it can be difficult to use them effectively though.

This is not to say Facebook and Twitter do not have their place. They are the the glue that makes it all stick — the tangible representations of the internet itself, the connection platforms. Connection platforms provide an infrastructure to form relationships, share and consume. What they lack is a clear use case that can lead users to create — the user is on their own there.

Seth’s main point is that time spent learning a platform is time not spent creating the things you aspire to create. I agree with him but would argue creation platforms are worth the investment as they not only facilitate creation, they expedite it. Medium provides writers with simple but powerful tools to create engaging stories much faster than one could with a paper and pen.

It’s not the capabilities of these tools that’s the difference, it’s the fact that the tools’ existence moves people to publish work they would not have otherwise.

I’ve been thinking about starting a podcast for two years but recorded my first wave on Anchor a few hours after installing the app. The platform was a call to action.

Anchor menu bar — where should I press?

For those struggling to create on social platforms, I recommend choosing the creation platform of your choice. If you are a photographer, go to town on Instagram. A writer, head to Medium. A speaker, start creating waves on Anchor. I believe you will be inspired to create something that’s unique rather than abstaining or re-shuffling other people’s content around. Let’s be honest, we don’t need more people doing that.