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June 10th, 2021

For the most part, social media gets a pretty bad rap.  And for good reason: it’s calibrated to our lowest impulses, and our most easily triggered desires.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful.  A social media account, is after all, free exposure to what could be millions of people who appreciate what we do, and if we can harness that attention, those millions could become adoring customers.  Such notions are bound up in our notion of brands and the atrociously termed ‘influencers’.  But the power and opportunity of social media extends far beyond such categories.  An artist who shares their work can find a small cadre of patrons who gobble up their work and fund their life.


This idea of building something in public, be it a business, an app, a cannon of paintings or writings is powerful for two very important reasons.


Take for instance the circumstance of someone building a product that isn’t yet launched or scaled, and who doesn’t have much money.  Social media offers the possibility of a free awareness campaign, but it goes far beyond this.  Posting a track record of progress allows potential customers to comment on the product before they even have it.  This is an invaluable source of information.  Most products -especially before the internet - were a total gamble.  You designed it, made a bunch, stocked the stores and hoped people would buy it.  But with the internet, and especially with social media, we can now design our project in public, and integrate feedback into the process, making the chances that our project is well received when it finally is launched, much higher.


This is the secret sauce of a platform like kickstarter.  The average notion is to just put a project up on kickstarter and hope for the best.  What’s far more likely to succeed is to document the entire process of prototyping the project on a social media account to build awareness and gain feedback.  But then, once a move like putting the project on something like kickstarter is done, there’s already an audience to tap for potential support.  This makes the likelihood that a goal is reached much much higher.


But beyond all this, there’s one additional benefit to building in public that far supersedes anything mentioned.  It’s what happens to motivation when feedback comes in.  Working on a project, like a business or a painting is often a solitary process, and because of this motivation can be a bit of a challenge.  Toiling away in obscurity is very difficult.  But toiling away in public brings a new dimension to the problem of motivation.  There are few things in life that are more motivating than a comment from a stranger who loves what you’re doing and can’t wait to get their hands on it.  All the usual bias of friends and family are gone, and there’s a clarity about the project and what it means to another human.  This, beyond anything helps light that spark of drive to push forward, and get it done.

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