Death of the Follower & Rise of the Real Fan

June 11, 2024

“The follow is too important to die. It’s too valuable to ignore … I believe that the next wave internet and media technology companies will surge on this problem and try to solve it. It’s actually already started.” - Jack Conte, CEO of Patreon at SXSW

The internet is at an inflection point as it shifts away from the “follower” model that made it such a powerful tool for the world’s creators. Social media platforms initially allowed creators to publish directly to their own audiences. However over the 2010s, Instagram, Facebook, and others started ranking feeds that ultimately optimized ad-revenue instead of guaranteeing reach. This change hindered the distribution of media from creators to their fans. Then, in the 2020s the rise of the “For You” feed - popularized by TikTok - completely abandoned the idea of “the follow” altogether in favor of personalized, curated feeds. The result is that it’s become increasingly difficult for creators to build tight online communities and durable businesses. The original “follower” model that made the internet so exciting for creators is all but gone.

However, the next phase of internet and media technology companies will focus on strength and depth of connections to help creators and fans build more robust communities. Patreon is leading the charge on this shift with a suite of community and media products focused on helping creators build durable communities and lasting businesses.

Related Articles