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What Is BitClout and Should I Care?

by Sarah O'Neill, on 31 March, 2021

bitclout DU M116x9

Bitclout is a portmanteau of Bitcoin, and Clout. Now, if the only word you understood in that sentence was ‘portmanteau’ then I have some bad news – you’re a boomer.

Now, now, it’s not all bad. Boomers got rock 'n' roll, sitcoms, a functioning housing market. But Gen Z? Gen Z get Bitclout.

Bitclout is a brand-new crypto platform that runs on creator popularity or ‘clout’. Fans, or just enterprising buyers, can purchase creator coins to push up their favourite creator’s currency. 

The site describes the phenomenon not as just crypto, but as “a new type of social network”. The structure of the site is similar to crypto, like Bitcoin, but it also has a complex social element, with profiles, posts and follows.

“So, what does this mean for influencers?”, I hear you ask.

Going beyond the follower count, Bitclout means that popularity has a literal quantitative monetary figure. Influence seems to be monetised directly, instead of traditional routes, such as ads or traffic. Bitclout promotes buying coins not just as a means of making money in the crypto market, but as a means to “get on [the influencer’s] team!”.

Like a popularity leader board, and currently Elon Musk is on track to win the cup. Currently with a coin of $83,052.77, at time of writing, the Space X Billionaire is joining wife Grimes in overtaking the novelty crypto landscape. Though NFTs put a price on created works, Bitclout seems to price up the potential of a creator to do work, or even just to exist. The reality TV of crypto. And with there being fewer that 100-1,500 coins for each profile, each coin is a scarcity. The coins are created when people buy them, and become more expensive as more coins are purchased. Selling coins, however, destroys the coins, which pushes the price of the profile down.

… and what does this mean for influencer marketing?

The website lists a few ways Bitclout will 'revolutionise' social media marketing.

  1. A new way to prioritise messages
    With Bitclout, the top creators will only be contacted by people with a certain amount of their coin in their wallet. Or, a certain amount of their coin will have to be paid directly to them, to slip into their DMs. Less spam, more coin. This will mean deals with top influencers become even more exclusive than they already are.
  2. Sponsored posts
    Bitclout makes retweets a bidding war. Creator’s have an inbox where people can bid to have them repost, and when the creator chooses the post in question, the money goes straight into their wallets. The bids can be made using the creators coin, pushing up the demand for the currency
  3. Premium content
    Think Patreon, think OnlyFans. People can pay the creators, in their own coin, to access special content, pushing up the creator’s popularity in direct correlation to the content they produce.
  4. Distributions and engagements
    Creators can offer prizes to their ‘top fans’, encouraging more purchases of their coins. Pay your years wages in Arianagrande coin, get one of her old scrunchies. Seems fair.
  5. Money Likes
    Purchases of coins = likes. So, when you ‘buy’ to like something, you get a purchase of the creator’s coin. You’re paying for good content and becoming part of the ‘brand’ when you do. Good content means now the fan is attached monetarily to the creator.

Is this dystopian? Because it feels dystopian.

Maybe so. But nowadays, everyone is encouraged to be a brand. Why not give creators direct access to the benefits of their influence, rather than having to rely on companies and marketers?

Although, this monitoring of popularity may put a strain on the ‘flaws’ of influencer marketing. At least, human influencer marketing (looking at you, CGI instagrammers). It makes investing a risky business, as not only may the marketer be tied to an unpopular influencer amidst a scandal, but they’ll lose a bunch of money directly, with the coin becoming basically unusable, being only usable with that creator. It becomes more of a risk to reach out to big creators. But on the other hand, marketers can trace the growing influence of small-time creators into big time presences, using the block chain tech to prove they were backing them from the get-go.

So...tell me the downsides. 

"There's no venue to sell BitClout", said James Prestwich to Crypto site CoinDesk. "You can put money in, but you can't get money out". So the money goes to creators, and creators only. Us laymen can't make any dough, just make dough for other people. So, it's all about putting your bets on the most popular people, and riding their wave of popularity, bidding for their attention and time. Though, Diamondhands, the lead creator, says the platform encourages exchange listings, and bridges to other blockchains. "It includes exchanges among its investors", says CoinDesk, "and hopes listings should come soon". Why are all crypto creators named like super villains? And why do they all talk like this?:

So, is the revolution amongst us?

“BitClout is decentralizing social media in much the same way as Bitcoin is decentralizing the financial system.”, claims the website. But is it as revolutionary as it’s promoting itself to be?

Only a fraction of the 15,000 have actually claimed their accounts. Out of the top 10, only 4 are verified.

The website recently had to remove Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong's profile, after he demanded it be taken down, claiming it to be misleading the public. 

I have discovered that my Twitter profile (and others as well) has been used without my permission or knowledge on a...

Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Friday, 2 April 2021

So with the site promoting the "value of the creator, not their content", what happens when a majority of the creators aren't, well, them? Maybe the concept of the creator is more valuable than the work. 

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