Twitter is a really important part of my life. That may sound a little overblown or even a bit sad, however it’s true. It has helped my career massively and The Social Penguin Blog would struggle to exist without the traffic and interaction it creates. I’ve been thinking recently if I would pay to use Twitter and I am pretty sure that I would, especially if the future of the platform depended on it. It got me thinking, can services like Twitter stay free forever?
The Simplest Form of Monetisation
Twitter has, and is struggling to make money. Its ad model is far from perfect and isn’t even obtainable to the majority of businesses due to the expensive nature of the ads (options for smaller businesses are coming). Aside from the cost of products such as promoted trends, there is little evidence of any real ROI. So what if the ad model never really takes off and Twitter decide to start asking users to pay? Not a huge amount of money, but a few pounds/dollars etc a month? After all, paying for products and services is hardly an alien concept to us humans, right? It’s the most obvious way for a service like Twitter to make money and survive.
If they did take that step, what would they need to do justify that?
- Really clamp down on the huge amounts of spam
- Offer an ad-free option for those who pay
- Ensure that it is so robust that it never goes down (although the ‘fail whale‘ is rare these days)
- Be 110% committed to a truly excellent user experience
If the future of Twitter depended on paid subscriptions, would people pay? I asked Twitter:
@Tambourinos - ‘negative, however I do think most of the internet will cease to be free in the near future’
@ginandting - ‘Yes, but I’d want some added value for that (no ads, more features, etc)’
@_NatStar - ‘I wouldn’t want to on principle. But could I live without it? Probably not. So I’d be likely to give in’
@Calzo - ‘Nope. It would turn into a bunch of companies trying to sell their products to each other. There would be no customers’
@UKHaiku – ‘Yes, if it was instead of any advertising or non-anonymised use of my data. I also reserve the right to my choice of client’
@btocher – ‘We’re already subjected to adverts on some Twitter clients, so I’d be very reluctant indeed’
@jackiecameron1 – ‘so far I have not paid for any social networking so I can’t imagine why that would change’
@craigmcgill – ‘Yes. But wouldn’t pay for Facebook’
@theFullSouter – ‘Absolutely! Twitter is my jam. I only use Facebook because friends and family do. I tried to hold out but caved’
A real mix of opinion there, interesting that people would pay for Twitter use over Facebook. This post has had real value added to it by those quotes, thanks to those who submitted feedback.
So, over to you folks, does Twitter offer you enough value to validate paying for the service? If it was a live or die situation for Twitter would you pay to help it survive? If Twitter allowed donations, ala Wikipedia, would you throw them a payment from time to time? Please do tell us your thoughts in the comments section below…
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