Two weeks ago, I joined Steem with a great excitement. I even volunteered and translated eSteem app to Thai. I talked to many people about Steem and convinced one to join.
I thought Steem is the future of content creation. However, after studying more deeply, I realized there are many issues that are preventing Steem from attracting and keeping users.
I take photos for fun. I spent a lot of money and time perfecting my photography skill. I've won some awards in local and international photography competitions. Steem looked like a good way to earn money from my expensive hobby. That's why I joined. I want people to see my pictures while I earn money.
Took this picture on a morning walk in Venice Beach, CA
I currently work as a user-interface designer and developer for a small software company in Texas. Through my employer, I work as a consultant for big names companies in financial, software, energy and government sectors. I can't be more specific due to the NDA. But anyone from the US would recognize the companies I worked for.
With these experiences, here are the obstacles that are preventing Steem from going mainstream.
1. Difficult to Understand
Coming up with an elevator pitch for Steem is easy. I simply tell people it's like Reddit or blogging but you earn cryptocurrency to use it. That's enough to get people's attention. But there's a whole lot going on behind the scene. For starter, Steem's whitepaper has 44 pages while Bitcoin's has 9. To most people, Bitcoin is hard enough to understand with only 9 pages, if they attempt to read the paper that is.
Steem has too many rules to understand. There are three currencies. One of them inflates horribly. One of them wouldn't let you quickly liquidate. Another one is pegged to the US dollar. To make it even more complicated, there has been some change to Steem so that what is written originally in the whitepaper no longer applies. I believe these are the Steem Power withdrawal time and Steem Dollar interest rate. As of right now, I still don't know where to find the updated information.
People are afraid of unknowns. They stay away from things that are unpredictable. Steem's complex nature is a barrier preventing people from using it.
2. No Content for Mainstream Audiences
Not everyone is crazy about cryptocurrency or Steem. Most people wants to know about current events and look at funny pictures like what's on Reddit's homepage. When I visit Steemit.com homepage as a guest, most of what I find are posts about cryptocurrency and Steem.
Steemit.com on 5/22/2017
There are some travel and photography posts on the homepage. But they are uninteresting and mediocre at best compared to what the Internet has to offer. I'm aware that Steem has more content than just the homepage. However, the first impression is extremely important. It's hard to change people's opinions once they formed them. When people comes to Steemit.com and found stuffs mostly about cryptocurrency, they are going to think Steem is only about cryptocurrency.
If people can go elsewhere for better content that fit their preferences. why should they come to Steem?
3. No Reward for Quality Mainstream Content Creators
Which comes first? The content or the audience? Hard to say. Without audience, the content creator would get no reward. So the audience would have to create the demand first.
But in Steem, most audiences do not provide reward anyway because their Steem Power is too small to count for anything. It's the whales and dolphins that provide reward and encourage content creations.
Unfortunately, these whales and dolphins upvote more cryptocurrency and Steem contents than other kind of contents that the mainstream would find interesting. This encourage more creation of contents for the whales and dolphins. It also discourages content creators to create contents for the mainstream that has the potential to bring in more users.
I usually post photography and travel contents. I write this about Steem because my contents in those tags don't really make any money. I have a greater chance of making money writing this post for the whales. But no one outside of Steem will find this interesting.
4. Hidden "Follow" Button
When I am reading a post in SteemIt.com, nowhere in the post do I see the "follow" button. I have to first click on the username and then click on the "follow" button to follow someone. Why does it have to be so hard?
In Medium, there are two follow buttons. One at the top of the post and one at the bottom. They are just one click away for readers to follow a writer.
In YouTube, there is a subscribe button below the video. It's just one click away for viewers to subscribe to a channel.
For Steemit, you may not think one click extra is a lot. It's really not if you think it's just one click. But it's more than a click. First, a user has to figure out where the follow button is hiding. He has to click on that. Then click on the follow button. These extra steps make it harder for content creators to get followers.
With little support from the audience, content creator has no incentive to keep creating content. Without content, why should people use Steem?
5. No Related Content Suggestion
In most news and blog sites, I usually see click-baity post links somewhere near the post I am reading. Usually these links are related to the content I am currently reading. It's a good way to keep the audience reading. It helps content creators gain passive exposure as well.
Traffic Sources of my YouTube channel
In YouTube, for example, it plays another related video automatically after one is finished. I have a small YouTube channel. The analytic shows that 41% of my traffic comes from YouTube video suggestions. I do not have to advertise my channel at all for people to discover content I created in the past. In Steem, I can only hope that my old contents will ever be seen again.
Without related content suggestion, audience cannot discover new content creators easily. This lack of meaningful engagement prevent content creators from working to their full potential as they have little support from the audience.
These are the points I can think of right now. I'm sure there are many more. Unless these obstacles are removed, Steem will remain a niche blogging platform for cryptocurrency people.
I really want Steem to go mainstream since I would be able to earn money from my hobby. I guess it will take some time.
What do you think is preventing Steem from going mainstream?