When you’re a content creator, who owns your community? Over the years, we’ve transitioned from the philosophy of self-hosting to company hosted platforms. We no longer make websites that sit on shared servers in some datacenter. Now, we create content on a corporate platform, trading page views for likes, and follows. On the one hand, it’s easier for the person creating the content. It gives them a focus, eliminating some of the business and marketing, and frees them to do what they do best. But what happens when the platform decides to close up shop?
When Microsoft announced they were closing Mixer, content creators across the internet were upset. Tweets about people losing jobs and having to start over crowded the timeline. But these people built a community of loyal viewers who donate with both their time and money. Surely they would follow their favorite streamer wherever they go. Sadly, history shows that’s not the case.
The last time Mixer was in the news (before the closure), it was for the contracts they signed with the industry’s biggest stars. Ninja, the most visible of any streamer in the game, signed a multi-million dollar deal to stream on Mixer. And when he left, hardly anyone followed. The millions of views and followers that he amassed never leaped Twitch. They stayed on Twitch, finding new people to watch. It begs the question, did Ninja build a community? Or is Twitch the community and he, was just the most famous face on the scene?
In the earlier days of Web 2.0, when blogging was king, your community lived on your website. And everything you did, somehow lead you back to your site. If you had a YouTube channel, you made sure people could follow you back to your website, where the same video would be available. These company hosted platforms were just the third party software you needed to plug back into your site. You created your own home on the internet. And no matter what happened, everyone would know where you lived. In the trade for self-sufficiency, there were certain unspoken expectations. We expected companies to build a place that we could call home. That our rent (data), would see returns in followers and commercial opportunities. We believed our free exchange would also keep us from being thrown out on the street. Yet, we all learned the hard way and now have questions to answer. When we build our tribe, are they loyal to us? And where is home? It’s time we figured it out, because as the great philosopher once said, “the rent is too damn high.”