The search for a social media identity

Despite any shortcomings social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube and more may have, one thing is clear – they remain at the top because they execute their main function better than the rest. I’ve spent a few years eyeing some alternatives to social media’s heaviest hitters to see if I might be able to leverage the platforms, but each of these endeavors has proven to be short-lived.

While the standard concept of social media hasn’t been much of a priority for me in the grand scheme of things, my major need has been in finding video hosting sites. I stumbled upon YouTube back in 2005 while searching out videos of freestyle dancing game performances and became intrigued when the site exploded in popularity and became a mainstay of the internet going into the next decade.

capturesetup

My video game capture setup circa 2008

I’ve talked about my very first video game capture setup a few times, and this came courtesy of my parents’ Sony handicam. With a special cord that came with the camera I could leverage my laptop to capture videos from my Playstation 2 and Xbox 360. I started my YouTube journey in 2008, capturing several videos from Dance Dance Revolution Universe 3 and then using the channel to host a variety of game trailers provided by publishers.

While the niche rhythm gaming audience brought me some viewership, it didn’t bring me subscribers. Even to this day, while I have multiple videos with more than 10,000 views, I recently struggled past the 350 subscriber mark. Leaning on Twitch resulted in a hiatus in my YouTube channel – I could monetize Twitch while my YouTube cannot generate revenues – which makes the lull in subscribers understandable, but my traction on the site is slow all around.

I put all of my focus into Twitch, which is a great live streaming site all around when the focus is placed on what the streamer is able to deliver. However, people go to it for the live interactions, meaning video upload and highlight viewership is downright abysmal.

I’ve given sites such as DailyMotion and Vimeo a shot, but the niche nature of my content has led to those channels being an absolute ghost town. The only YouTube competitor that ever seemed to have clicked with my content was Vidme, which was closed up in 2017.

I’ll just start out now by warning you that the Vidme domain has since been acquired by an adult entertainment company, so be careful if you search for information on this video hosting service. Otherwise, the original concept of Vidme has since been absorbed into the Giphy platform.

vidme

Vidme had a very visible gaming section, and it mixed in incentives to interact with other users’ videos. There was even a decent slice of retro gaming content, and, while my videos wouldn’t explode with viewership, my work certainly saw more viewers and engagement than any other YouTube competitor that has shown up to this point.

For any negative you want to say about YouTube, it has an essential “monopoly” on the ease of use of sharing your videos. If you go to virtually any website ever where you can input your own content, merely dropping in a URL instantly pops a YouTube video up for sharing. This is crucial for GemuBaka, which runs off WordPress, and as far as I knew, there wasn’t even a widget available to allow me to embed Vidme videos onto the site.

I never heavily relied on using Twitter as a content creation tool until about 2018, so I don’t even recall how Vidme videos linked or embedded into tweets. My mindset at the time was that my live-streamed content went on Twitch, and then my recorded items went onto Vidme with an intent to work those into my website.

This is an example of a very short-lived series I started that was originally exclusive to the Vidme platform:

Vidme gained a lot of attention and investments, and then it made the mistake of trying to be a “YouTube killer” instead of a genuine alternative to the format. Vidme did have a revenue program, and it tried luring established YouTube creators to the platform by essentially giving them a “free pass” into the revenue program if they met certain criteria through their YouTube channel. And if I’m recalling correctly, this wasn’t exactly a very high bar to clear.

The huge problem with this was that none of these creators were “jumping ship” over to Vidme, they just leveraged it as a secondary site where they could potentially pick up a couple of extra bucks … and I mean it’s not like I blame them. My main issue with this, though, was that these YouTube creators started dumping their entire archives onto the site all at one time, making it a mess to try and find new and original content within the gaming section.

I worked hard to try to create something out of my Vidme channel, and I found a few really interesting channels as a result, but the site folded a mere few months after I started using it. Representatives of the site issued a statement, echoing the “YouTube killer” sentiments I mentioned before and noted the track the site was on was not sustainable. This put me back to the drawing board, and I do believe this one of the factors that created the launching point of Twitter being my main social media identity, along with Twitch.

beam

Speaking of Twitch, I did investigate an alternative at one point, doing two live streams on Beam. Most people will likely know this platform by what it eventually morphed into – Mixer. On a technical basis, at that time I would say my video was streamed a little smoother on Beam, which would have been great as the computer I was using at that time was by no means a processing powerhouse. However, viewership of retro gaming streams at that time was non-existent on the format.

Between two streams, I recall there being one time where a single viewer stumbled into the channel and watched for a little while. And in surfing through what other streamers were doing, I believe the highest viewer count I ever saw on a retro gaming channel was five. It looked like Microsoft was going to bet big on Mixer as a means of implementing it into its devices like the Xbox, but I never did anything with the format during this time. I can only speak of my short-lived Beam career, and who knows if anyone would even know what I was talking about.

trovo

I was also clued into Trovo roughly a year ago, but this site emits massive “Twitch doesn’t mind if you copy its homework, just make sure you change a few words,” energy. Instead of using “bits” and “cheers,” Trovo uses commands such as “casting spells.” I don’t quite get it, but it at least looks like it manages the basics very well. If someone is looking for a Twitch alternative that sticks close to the source material, you can check this one out. However, similar to my Beam experience, the last I gave Trovo a good look over, it also didn’t have much of a retro representation.

I spent the majority of 2018-2022 solely on Twitter, Twitch, and eventually settling a little more into YouTube. I’ve always liked the brief content bits on Twitter, and once you learn how to filter tweets, you can avoid a lot of the garbage such as promoted tweets and unassociated tweets curated by the “algorithms.” I felt like I was gaining momentum through 2018 and 2019 in finally having some sort of an audience … then the pandemic hit, and this seemed to kill these gains.

I believe I went into 2020 with roughly 1,200 Twitter followers, and two years later I’m scratching and clawing to hang on to the 1,400 mark. This is in stark contrast to going year-to-year the previous few years doubling my followers. I’d spent most of the past 15 years telling myself I could make a mark in video game content, and this point felt like hitting the brick wall. This was the point where the back of my mind knew it might be time to formulate an exit strategy from social media sites should I decide to finally lower the curtain for good.

I think what kept me from doing this was in finding how accessible content from Japanese Twitter users is, and I moved from having more of an overall “game collector” mindset to doing more features on obscure fighting games. The “kusoge” fighter crowd is likely what keeps me running, and a lot of users, including those behind Fraud Crew, have put a lot of effort back into the community. This time also made me realize I was putting way too much effort into developing Twitter content, when I have this very site I could be updating with content instead.

Over the past year, though, there had been a lot of talk about a Twitter shakeup coming courtesy of a sale. Based on a recent experience, I was actually formulating a story like this in the past – my idea to type this out actually has nothing to do with the eventually-realized sale and change of ownership of Twitter. It did, however, impact the timing of this piece, as there is no better time than now to hash out what alternatives I’ve been checking out recently.

Hover

hoverThis is the actual basis of this feature. I dipped my toes into the Instagram pool a few years back, and, much like Facebook, the format just isn’t my style. The same goes for TikTok … I think I uploaded about three videos ever to my Vine account before that tanked.

The premise of Hover borrows a little from the Instagram and TikTok mold, but it wholly focuses on video gaming. Primarily the focus is on highlighting users’ Twitch channels, but it also allows the users to manually upload short video clips similar to what can be done on Instagram or TikTok. However, Twitch streamers do get a little more leverage on this format, as it provides quick links to the user’s Twitch channel and has a separate blade that cycles in content from users that happen to currently be live on Twitch at that very moment.

I think the unsung hero of the format is in the absolute ease of use the user can access and upload their clips. The mobile app can directly access your phone media, you can access your Twitch clips, you can link accounts such as Xbox LIVE to instantly access your game clips you have saved and you can use the desktop site to load in videos and access them via cloud. You get a lot of options to manage your content here.

You get the option of following users, and this cycles these users into a separate feed. Otherwise, you can go into a randomly-curated feed, or visit a third feed, which is the aforementioned “live on Twitch” feed. Of course, you also have the option to leave comments or like other users’ content, and Hover introduces a “GG” like that can be done twice every four hours. Participating in these activities build up user points, known as “gravity,” and there is a leaderboard that shows how active the user is.

Here is an example of something I was previously doing exclusive to Hover – the #WedNESday video:

I genuinely like this platform, and I’m getting way more enjoyment out of it than other video clip platforms. The major setback I’m seeing right now is in the possibility Hover might not be long for this world.

Earlier in the year, the platform featured contests where users to flag clips that matched a certain theme – “fails,” scary games, etc. – and these would be judged for inclusion in a competition that offered cash prizes. The platform was also very vocal about the addition of “partners” to the format.

However, Hover announced someone key to the platform left in August, and its last activity was a super vague tweet made at the beginning of September. Since that time, not a peep has been heard from the company, and no updates have been seen to the app. Before the silence, I was kind of wondering what the revenue situation would be like for the app, as it needs funds to keep it running. With no advertisements or “premium features,” from a business perspective, it made me curious what the long-term plan was considering the platform awarded cash prizes in the competitions.

Hover wasn’t a platform I figured would make me money or launch me to success, but it got eyes on my content. You also get notifications when someone uses the link to visit your Twitch channel, so I can say Hover actually resulted in a little bit of traction for me. With nothing being said about the future of the platform, though, I don’t get much faith it will still be around six months from now. And that will be unfortunate because it was probably the social media platform that treated me the best outside of certain stretches of being on Twitter.

D.J. Tatsujin on Hover

Cohost

chostI recently started using a platform called Cohost, and, so far, I’m kind of digging it. If I had to sum it up in a few words, Cohost is shaping up to be what I wish something like Facebook would be. I don’t have any experience with LiveJournal, but I’ve seen many users compared Cohost to that platform, so I’ll have to take their word for it.

Cohost is a very cozy site. While I wouldn’t say it is difficult to get into the site, there are a few “setbacks” such as being on a waiting list to be verified before you can start posting (with so many people jumping over at the moment, this queue is in the tens of thousands) and there is no automatic content feed. For some people, creating a feed is an adventure, though, as you need to search out your own interests and find others to follow.

Once I had a small group to follow, these users shared other posts made by users of similar interests, and it has really snowballed from that point.

One of the more fascinating features of Cohost is its ability to utilize CSS into posts, allowing those in the know to craft some very interesting and artistic posts. I’m not so much in the know, but my limited knowledge allows me to sprinkle multiple bits of media such as photos, videos and GIFs throughout a post, similar to how I can with GemuBaka.

Perhaps what has surprised me the most so far, is in realizing how much I’ve suppressed my desire to expand on topics when dealing with the limitations of Twitter. My posts on Cohost usually evolve into short stories that detail my history with games and my thoughts on them. I still adhere to the tl;dr mentality internet users have, but I am usually satisfied by sharing posts that do not surpass a single screen on my computer monitor. Besides, if I type any longer than that, that content should really be a feature on GemuBaka, right? (Funny enough, the recent Holosseum feature on GemuBaka was an evolution of a random Cohost post I made)

Your feed is very streamlined as well. Everything is presented as people you follow in timeline order, and nothing is pushed onto your content feed. I didn’t realize it until I saw someone else mention it, but they are correct: because nothing extra is pushed onto your feed, you eventually reach a point where you cycle through all of your new content. The content ends. It’s refreshing that I can reach an end to new content, and then I can elect to search out more content or go do something else.

I’ve found some fantastic content to follow on Cohost so far, so I’m excited to see what the future of the platform holds. I could really see this being “my Facebook,” and I am curious as to what a fully-featured Cohost site will evolve into.

D.J. Tatsujin on Cohost

Hive

hiveThis is the “new kid on the block” as it pertains to popularity, giving users a marriage of Twitter and Instagram. I haven’t even used Hive for a full week, so I hesitate to try and review this platform at this point. All that said, in my limited use of the platform, I can’t say that it is wowing me out of the gate.

At this point in the game, I’m not certain I’m looking for something that 1:1 replicates Twitter, but I want to give this a fair chance. This is because I believe if I can come across the right community, I’ll be able to share my gaming content to a whole new audience that is being missed on the other formats.

To do this, I’m guessing I have to lean on topic searches, as the default search feed takes more of an Instagram-style approach. The app does feature a highlighted gaming section, but I’ve found it is littered with portraits of people used to promote they are about to stream. I’m not sure the retro gaming audience has flocked to this platform yet, but I’m going to keep searching and adding content to the tags in the hope that this community eventually surfaces.

Perhaps what bothers me the most at this point is that Hive only exists as a mobile app. In my approach to social media, I like to use a lot of content created through my computer. This means I have to transfer my videos, photos and GIFs to myself in order to have them accessible for posting on Hive. I realize there is a small team working on the app (I’ve read there are two people working on this?), but I am always feeling like I need to jump through a couple of extra hoops in order to do my routine posting to Hive.

Again, I just started using Hive, so I don’t want to say too much about what I think about it yet. I don’t want it to seem like I’m really down on the app to dissuade people from using it, but I’m not certain I fit the mold of the type of user for which the app is intended. Still, I’m hopeful it will be like Cohost, where there is a point that everything clicks together and I start to see all sorts of interesting content flowing through.

SocialMediaBanner

For now, I’ll ride this new wave of social media to see where it takes me. As it stands I’m working with three platforms I’ve used for years and I’m now juggling three new platforms to see how they work out.

But I’ll always keep GemuBaka rolling for as long as I possibly can. On top of having a social media exit strategy on my mind, it’s always been in my head that social media can potentially lock away years of content if it ceases to exist.

I recently downloaded my Twitter archive, and I need to dig into that to see what exactly they send you in that zipped package. It can be difficult to search out older social media content as it doesn’t always stick to search results, and any of these companies can instantly wipe out this content if they feel they can no longer make money off of it. In recent times, I keep wondering exactly how much valuable content we lost with Geocities removing every single site from the service.

It’s weird to me that when I post something online, I’ll never know whether or not it will get zero views or 10,000 views. Regardless, everything I post has some sort of value to me, and that’s why I keep it backed up. The videos have artistic value to me and represent the “photo album” of my life as I travel to all sorts of locations. Social media helps me share this a little more, letting other people see all of these crazy arcades and weird, obscure video games. I don’t know if I’ll ever finally discover my full “social media identity,” but so many people in the gaming community have made the journey worthwhile.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Categories: GemuBaka Feature, GemuBaka Random

Author:djtatsujin

Arcade enthusiast and game collector. Affiliate Twitch retro streamer and games archive writer at Gemubaka (http://gemubaka.com). For business only: gemubaka at gmail

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