Since digitalization began to take hold of print media some 20 years ago, publishers’ approach to monetization has been something like throwing spaghetti on the wall: If it sticks—whoo—let’s do more paywalls and unnecessary slideshows! If it doesn’t—no worries—we’ll just trim our staff and recruit fledgling freelance writers willing to get in paid in “exposure.”
Both options have drawbacks, however. In the first instance, readers might get annoyed and head for outlets offering a decidedly more unfettered reading experience. In the latter case, while the ad traffic payout won’t have to go so far initially, the website’s content creators will take their skills to greener pastures—ones that pay for content.
Moreover, the sites that tend to get strong reader buy-in are often those marquee news outlets that convey a sense of prestige to both the readership and the journalists talented enough to land a job there. For the journalist just starting out in building clips and for the news outlets looking to gain a foothold in a rocky industry, however, the market isn’t necessarily willing to justify a $15-month subscription. A possible answer for new sites and journalists looking for traction is social tipping.
Social tipping, and crowdfunding, its close cousin, have been around in some shape or another for about a decade now. (Incidentally, so have cryptocurrencies.) Like a YouTube channel and want to encourage the creator to post more clips? Great—there are funding sources in which you can be the influencer and keep the stream of videos going to slake your thirst all without the content creator having to go the paid influencer route and do product placement. Given that many social tipping and crowdfunding sites run on separate, unintegrated platforms, donating on them requires forethought. You can’t vote with your click mid-video stream.
Enter Reddcoin’s ReddID, a wallet using Reddcoin’s cryptocurrency RDD, that connects across browsers and social media platforms to facilitate social tipping without having to leave the site in question. Not unlike clicking the “like” button on Facebook, claps on Medium, or hearts on Instagram or Twitter; in one click, ReddID users can reward quality content by way of an RDD microtransaction. The platform’s payment settlement is near-instantaneous, with no waiting for blockchain sync. And of potential use to editors, producers, and anyone looking to research story ideas that will resonate with readers—hence garner clicks—ReddID offers a search function to follow tipping activity across the web, effectively working as a ranking and analytics tool.
Beyond giving users a way to benefit content creators, ReddID bolsters the user experience for content consumers as well. By tapping into the very emotions that have made social media the indomitable force it has become, ReddID injects another human element into media. The ability to like, comment and post affords us to make ourselves heard and interact with the news.
Granted, crotchety people have been yelling at televisions and radios since broadcast media’s inception. Online media however, for better or for worse, gives us a platform for reacting that stands a chance of receiving a reaction from the content creator. Offline, the people who are often considered the greatest conversationalists are those who get the other person to talk about themselves; in effect, they make the other person in the conversation feel like there is no one else in the room. Social tipping is one way to feed this fundamental human desire to be heard. Since the platform is based on micropayments, ReddID allows users to participate in this way as much as their budget allows. Reddcoin and ReddID don’t charge any overhead, so users can tip the equivalent of pocket change, with each cent going to the content creator. This is in contrast to older crowdfunding sites, which take a percentage of most, if not all, donations.
“Our suggestion is that we use Reddcoin to launch an economy where none has existed before to provide access to commerce through the use of an extremely low-cost micropayment system,” says David Faust, business operations director at Reddcoin. “The use of a micropayment system on social media sites will provide the incentive to give to causes that might never have received funding otherwise.”
In effect, the platform gives users both the sense of and tangible ownership of belonging to the content. In a sense, they are helping to create the next wave of content. Taking ownership of an article or a publication in turn, makes users the stewards of that outlet, helping to inspire trust. Content creators, for their parts, will feel that others value their work, helping them to be motivated to produce more articles, which, in turn, stand to generate more tips. The virtuous cycle continues.
Whatever will be the secret sauce to sustain journalism and digital media into the next wave of disruption—whether it be one fueled by blockchain/cryptocurrency or otherwise—is still being perfected. Building a platform such as ReddID based on the indelible community of social media and cryptocurrency, the next wave of digital innovation, might not be a panacea for journalism, though it can be a bridge to bring us there. In this day and age, there is no need to throw spaghetti: We know that trustworthiness in media is part of the journey. Bringing a bit of human emotion into the mix will make us all feel a bit more motivated to make it good news.