Do you remember a recent Google image? Tom Sawyers friends painting the picket fence? It reminded me to look for an article I read a while ago: “Facebook is now valued at $50 billion, Twitter at $10 billion and The Huffington Post has been sold for $315 million to AOL.
Most of the value was created by people working free for Facebook, Twitter and Huffington Post. We are being played to feed the beast, to create content that ends up creating value for others.
The Huffington Post, most social networks and traditional media have all one thing in common: low-cost and no-cost content is becoming the norm. But writing for an upstart blog is a little different from cranking copy for AOL, a large American media company with a market value of $2.2 billion.
For anyone who is making a living by writing, it’s becoming somewhat scary. The growing perception is that content is a commodity, and the companies can have it for the price of zero. Content websites, such as Demand Media, paying up to $15 per article raised the price only slightly.
It reminds me a bit of Tom Sawyer: “Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?” he asks his friends, and soon they are lined up for the privilege of doing his chores. That’s a bit like how social networks get built.
Nowadays Sawyer would say “You’re building an audience around your personal brand.” Audiences became publishers, essentially painting the fence for the people who own the various platforms.