Signaling Requires Engagement if the End Goal is Monetization

Applications Studio Inc.
3 min readFeb 15, 2022

In their book “The Elephant in the Bain”, Robin Hanson and Kevin Simler posit that most of our every day actions can ultimately be traced back to some form of signaling or status seeking. At the same time, they suggest, we deceive ourselves that this is not the case and we justify our actions based on some kind of logic or principles. We justify paying more for an iPhone by telling ourselves that we seek a more reliable product when in reality, we buy it to signal to the World that we are a creative type.

Intuitively we understand the three key elements of Signaling: Message (“I want people to know I am a creative person”), Distribution (I buy and use in public my shiny and expensive iPhone) and Amplification (I convey the message beyond the people physically close to me because my email signature mentions my iPhone). The Message reflects us and our view of ourselves. The Distribution might simply present itself opportunistically (a meeting) or it might be something we belabor (a short video we made or picture we took). The Amplification is achieved through deliberate choice of a platform such as Facebook, YouTube or TikTok. Some of us go through life content with or limited by our talents to signaling to a small number of people. Others, might stumble upon or carefully craft a perfect signaling storm that propels them to stardom. While that kind of visibility might be enough to satiate an ego, monetizing it would turn a baseline trait into a lifestyle. To achieve that ultimate goal, signaling by itself, however skillful and empowered, would not be enough. The equation of success is:

Signaling + Engagement = Monetization

If you are a content creator, you took this hidden side our psyche, our need to signal, and turned it into a skill. You combined it with your story telling talent and a painstaking search for the right platform to distribute to finally being able to to tap in the amplification tools provided by social media. You made it, you have a significant audience upon which you can bestow your craft and signal to your heart’s content. Your large audience might even bring some revenue through the monetization mechanisms provide by the platform but the stability of that income really depends on your ability to turn your audience into a community. You do not want to churn through audiences until nobody is left to listen to you, neither you want to spiral into crazier and crazier stunts just to beg the audience to come back. Loyalty and the sweet taste of long user lifetime are achieved through direct engagement with your audience which in turn leads to the creation of a community. This is the reason why sustained monetization requires engagement.

The best way to engage with and nurture a community is to create your own distribution channel, a channel you are in full control of, a channel enabling you to explore messaging, services, models. The best distribution channel in this day and age is your own mobile app. The cost to create and manage one make it easy for any content creator to build their own engagement platform. Sure, use the social media platforms to gain new followers but then, bring them inside your universe, inside your community where people with similar aspirations and tastes will find a home.

So wat are you waiting for? You conquered the signaling mountain, now go ahead and create your own mobile app to make that win sustainable. Our platform enables creators easily create and manage a mobile app without coding, for the price of two coffees a month.