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Would You Pay To Access Social Networks Sites?

Strange as it seems,  Facebook may soon need to borrow money to keep up its frantic pace of growth.

It’s funny,  we don’t tend to think of how free social networks are actually run, just that they’re always there and waiting for us for free.  But  Techcrunch pointed out today that while Facebook has more users than ever, the costs of actually running the site is getting higher than ever, too-it costs millions a month to power Facebook.

Facebook relies (among other things) on ad revenue to keep the site going and apparently, it isn’t enough.   But they might not be the only social network site with this problem.

Most social networking sites rely on this kind of revenue model and, as time goes by, it might not be enough to cover the costs of offering their services for free.

In a hypothetical future, we might have to start-gasp!-paying to access social network sites.

If that happens, the whole social media model we’ve come to know may collapse.

I don’t think it’s likely to happen-someone, if not Facebook, will figure out a way to successful monetize their social network portal without alienating users-but there may come a time when it’s just not feasible to offer social media services for free.

Would you pay to use a social network site, particularly if it was used by your clients and stakeholders?

Or would the world simply stop using social media if it was no longer free?


Jill Hurst-Wahl

If I had to pay, I would definitely scale back on the number of sites I use. I would experiment with new sites much less. A site would have to prove its worth in order to stay viable and I imagine that many sites would fail. Among my friends and colleagues, I bet we'd decide on a select sites to use and drop the rest.

Scott Paterson

It would really depend on how much the fee was, and how many of my friends were also willing to pay. In addition, if there was a cost involved, my expectations of service would almost certainly go up as well.

Christie Adams

I think the level of expected service is key, Scott. Most of these sites already offer features that people really like. Is there a next level of features available above that? I don't know. And I don't know if people will be willing to pay for what they used to get for free. n nJill, I agree that many sites will have to prove their worth. What makes social networks work, though, is if people make them work, which is why many will be so reluctant to pay when they're the ones who do all the work. The question is, then, what options are available to social networks?

Christie Adams

Interesting-so the curiosity (and exclusivity?) factor worked-and so did essentially an offer to barter, not to buy. n nI wonder if people would be more comfortable bartering for social media services rather than buying them?

John Carson

Hi Christie,

I bought a copy of “Tribes” as a condition of joining Seth Godin’s closed social network at so, in effect, I did pay for a social network.

The curiosity factor (and because it’s part of my job) made me keen to see who else was in there.


Scott Paterson

Christie: Features are one thing, but there’s also the reliability of the service. I run across the occasional glitch on Facebook. While it’s free, I have no problem accepting them. If I were paying for it, I’d expect it to be nearly perfect, without ads, and some kind of global blocker to prevent invites from all my app-junkie friends and relatives. 🙂

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