If you come to think about it… the whole terminology of “influencers” is a marketing term. “Find those people who are able to influence others, and have them push our products by providing monetary incentives to do so”. And give them other forms of help, like clothing to wear, gadgets to unbox, invitations to interesting places, etc.
That part of ‘influencer culture’ would still work without ad-tech and algorithms driving the engagement. I expect all kinds of affiliate marketing and guerilla marketing tactics to appear on the Fediverse when it grows in popularity. Already I notice accounts following me that I suspect are testing the waters and learning about fedi culture.
There’s a growing discontent in the marketing and advertising business by those buying ad space as they see that the Big Tech advertisement platforms such as Facebook and YouTube not only don’t care about their users (the product), but also don’t care about the effectiveness of their expensive campaigns. Targeted advertising doesn’t work as well as it is depicted. But as long as they rake in the money Big Tech don’t care about anything.
The biggest advantage the Fediverse has to fend off advertising is its own culture with anti-capitalist and anarchist tendencies, and fedizens who fled all the crazy of the regular web. It means that any company willing to advertise is walking on egg-shells. Those that manage to get a good presence on the Fediverse will probably do so because of their alignment in values and principles, and find a natural audience of people who dig their message.
There are already examples of this. And not all of this is necessarily bad news. In a changed post-capitalist positive world there’d probably still be businesses. Consumers and producers still would need to be able to find each other and make good choices.
But undoubtedly there’ll be negative side-effects with a growing popularity of the Fediverse. First of all spamming will increase big time, and that needs to be fought. Also opinion-based discussion will be more prominent, as appealing to the gut drives engagement metrics unfortunately. And many unscrupulous marketeers will package their advertisement campaigns very sneakily so people aren’t aware how they are targeted. On fedi there aren’t many rules to follow and also there are no companies and institutions with their lawyers and all to reinforce those rules. There’s a vulnerability there.
The way we design our apps and integrate them with others can help fend this off and keep the culture healthy. With all that we build we must take possible abuse vectors into account. But the tech is only supportive. It is the people and the culture on which most of this hinges, and we must be very aware of that so we can foster it!
A sudden move by a Big Tech player to add fedi support - which some people are anticipating and seem to encourage - will bring the masses to Fediverse. And it will also destroy this culture, or push it to the fringes just like it did on the regular, now corporate, web. Of that I am convinced, and it is why I am proponent of a much slower, deliberate evolution of the Fediverse as a whole. We first need to grow in our own strength.