Prior to the Internet, if you had a movie you wanted to make, a book that you wanted to write, a song that you wanted people to hear, or you wanted to take part in just about any other creative endeavor, you had to find the right person or company to help you get your work in front of the right audience.
Even people with everyday products would have to find someone to help spread the word about their products so that people would purchase them.
In other words, whether you wanted to distribute your content or market a product or service, you had to get the attention of the right gatekeeper who would grant you access to the media channels needed to reach the people you wanted reach.
Then the Internet was created and the game changed. Or did it?
The Death of the Gatekeeper
In the early days, people were praising the Internet for the way it helped content creators who might never have been discovered make a living doing what they love because they could now connect with their fans and customers directly, thus bypassing the gatekeeper.
And, these people were and still are correct.
As a 2017 post on the strategy& website points out, “The amount of digital content created, exchanged, and consumed is growing by the day across the world, and because the Internet has democratized access to creation and distribution tools, boundaries between professional and amateur content are blurring across all parts of the creative sector.”
The post introduces a report released by strategy&, part of the PwC network.
According to the report, “Increasingly, the power is shifting to the consumers, who decide what they want to make, what they want to consume, and how and when they want to consume.”
Keep in mind, the old gatekeepers still have a role to play, they just have more competition.
As the study points, “Traditional media players must now compete with purely digital brands and platforms for the time and attention of the consumer.”
In other words, content creators can now avoid the traditional gatekeepers if they want to and still reach the right audience.
Long Live the Gatekeeper
While traditional gatekeepers have lost some of their power, thought leaders are beginning to warn us of a new gatekeeper that might have even more influence over what we consume.
While content creation and distribution tools are now becoming less expensive and are open to nearly everyone, some of these same tools are making it increasing difficult for some content to reach its intended target audience.
The reason for this is due to the fact that discovery of new content on many online platforms is controlled by algorithms that tend to reward certain behaviors and therefore don’t always highlight the most important or best content.
Part two and three in this series of posts will provide further explanation about how algorithms control what gets seen by consumers and how it can have an impact on society, as well as some additional business implications for your brand.
Additional posts will highlight some specific case studies and give possible suggestions about what we can do about it, both as content creators and content consumers.