Social Media Becomes More Profitable – And Users Will Pay…

Social Media Becomes More Profitable – And Users Will Pay.

Originally published in The Global Futurist Blog by author Douglas Castle.

Q: Did you think that the companies who provide these wonderful information and communication platforms were humanitarian foundations?

A: Maybe they just haven’t donned their pirate gear yet. Arrrrgh.

Social Media platforms (such as Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube and a host of others, growing in number daily) seem to start out as giveaways — think of all the fun you can have — the applications — the utilities — the groups, forums and clubs…and at no expense. How addictive!

The world’s consumer population has become increasingly reliant upon these “free” resources to the extent that they have become embedded in our daily routines and have become an integral part of our lifestyles. The general public has become completely dependent upon these resources.

Small businesses have built these media platforms, tools and applications into their branding, promotion and advertising campaigns. Consumers and smaller businesses have become hooked. Deeply.

As the street corner drug pusher knows (although he might not tell you this if asked), addiction is a powerful motivator. After becoming dependent upon the drug, we reach a point where have to either de-tox, or continue to pay. If the drug (i.e., free social media) is addictive enough, we will demand more and more of it and we will pay any price to have it.

Pretend (this is merely an exercise) that the creators and longer-term strategy managers of Twitter, Facebook and the Google Gang had a nefarious plan to monetize themselves at our eventual expense.

Metaphorically (I remind you that this is merely an exercise), they create a demand, and they find small ways to profiteer without directly charging their major audience — They have paid advertisements, AdWords, special rankings, and “professional” versions of themselves at a slight fee to the more ambitious user who wants to use the service in a “white-labeled,” format i.e., without having his or her message littered with other people’s ads.

These social media companies become enormous earners. And earnings are sometimes habit-forming, too; especially when they can be generated easily over a large population of users. Those pennies add up.

Within the next three years, I would not be surprised if these media providers began charging nominal fees for non-commercial users. It can start out being very inexpensive (as were fossil fuels in the 1960’s, when gasoline stations were giving away gifts with each tankful of gasoline in order to attract customer brand loyalty amidst the competitive environment of abundant fuel…), and it can just be raised to cover “costs” or “inflation” or “to better serve you” over time. Incremental increases; negligible at first, but becoming significant over time.

An article excerpt follows, just as a teaser:

  • Sources say Twitter will launch brand pages
    Twitter is thinking about giving companies the ability to create Facebook-style branded profile pages, sources say. The pages may be part of a plan to help the company generate long-term revenue streams, an initiative being led by CEO Dick Costolo and revenue chief Adam Bain. (U.K.) (4/5)
  • In the article excerpt above, focus on the words “part of a plan to help the company generate long-term revenue streams.” It brings out the paranoia in those of us who have studied behavioral psychology and understand how it applies to the global future.

    My cable provider really has me hooked. I have a “Triple Play” package that somehow gets more expensive every few months. Within a few years, it might cost more than the mortgage. I have a scan of the tail portion of a recent invoice from Comcast (who shall remain nameless) where they have actually added a charge for invoicing me! And they have added a tax to that! Pretty soon, they’ll be adding a fee for accepting my tendered payment!!!

    Remember: Fossil Fuels, Utilities — and Social Media, next. Here’s the Comcast invoice, as promised (just left-click on the pic for a larger, high-resolution view):



    Douglas Castle
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