Oct 25, 2022 - Technology

Survey: Creators describe tense relationship with social media

Illustration of a suited sleeve with a digital cursor thumbs down

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A majority of people surveyed by creator economy company Patreon say they feel "screwed" by large tech platforms and their algorithms, per a new survey shared exclusively with Axios.

Driving the news: In Patreon's survey of more than 1,500 creators (some of whom do not use Patreon), 70% say they feel social media platforms put them at a disadvantage, but 60% say they are reliant on those platforms to showcase their work.

By the numbers: Seventy-five percent of creators said in response to survey questions they wish to make more diverse work, but feel compelled by social media algorithms to keep putting out what may perform best. Patreon conducted the survey from September to December of 2021.

  • Seventy-three percent say they don't like that algorithms impact what they choose to put out, though being placed in the feeds of people who aren't following them does sometimes result in lucrative sponsorship deals eventually.
  • Seventy-five percent say they think algorithms punish creators who aren't constantly publishing.
  • Forty percent say they have trouble using algorithms to increase their reach and it's unclear how to land places like Instagram's Explore page and TikTok's For You page.

What they're saying: "These apps are important tools for creators... but disproportionately depending on any single one puts you at the whim of the platforms, meaning any algorithm change can impact your income," Patreon says of its study in a blog post.

Between the lines: Patreon, which was founded in 2013, sometimes competes with large tech platforms to be a place where creators go to monetize their content. Pointing out the disadvantages of algorithmically driven feeds highlights its own business model of connecting creators directly to their audiences and provides it a way to get paid while taking a cut of the revenue.

  • Patreon's survey finds ad revenue is the fastest-decreasing source of income for creators, while paid memberships have been the fastest-increasing source of income, over the same time period.
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