They asked and yes, we have questions. To pay, or not to pay? It’s the topic of the hour, and is a question developers, investors, entrepreneurs, advertisers, and even users want to have answered. This one question splits into about a thousand others. Will people pay to escape advertising, or for access to an industry-specific social media service? Are social sites going to eventually privatize? The answers might just depend on the success of the brow-raising, subscription-seeking social platform app.net. No pressure.
We sort through the mess and weigh in on app.net. But first, let’s get familiar:
Now that you are familiar…
Nikki, JESS3 Digital Producer
Would you pay for a social media service? YES
You may not have heard about app.net yet, but there is good reason to keep it on your radar. This little known startup project isn’t just another drop in the social networking bucket. Its founding principle is that you, as the user, will always come first.
Yes, this principle has been preached by almost every social network on the planet, but app.net has introduced a game changing approach: It’s not free and it’s not ad supported. You might ask yourself why would anyone bother to pay? Internet powerhouses such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest are already well established and free.
But consider this novel idea: All of your data, your posts and your information will belong to you. You will always be the first consideration – not how you can be packaged and sold to an advertiser. This results in a product that is tailored to its user base and that lives solely to make the experience better. The answer is that people will pay for it because app.net is the social network that we deserve.
Although many might still be skeptical at this point, the Internet has spoken. After only 28 days (out of the proposed 30) and a goal of $500,000 – app.net has blown past it’s goal and gained funding as well as 12,000+ users in the process.
Their success may signal a huge change in what we consider the social networking standard – at the very least it has garnered the attention and starry eyes of a few dreamers like me.
Xiyao, JESS3 Irreplaceable Analytics Intern
Would you pay for a social media service? NO
The idea of charging users $50 annual fee for social network site (SNS) services is brave. I doubt if app.net has conducted a survey to ask a well representative sample for people’s willingness to pay for a SNS service.
Yes, there are already successful SNS’s that ask users to pay for services. For example, MyLife charges customers to provide them access to profile information for every living U.S. adult, eHarmony provides dating services with a paid subscription, and Kickstarter provides project launching initiatives. However, app.net is different from these sites in that it aims to be similar to Twitter. This leaves me to ask the question, why would users flock to a paid service if they can get an extremely similar service for free?
A recent poll indicates that only 3% of survey participants are willing to pay for a SNS if the price is reasonable. The logic behind using social network services is, “I am on it because everybody is on it”. If only 3% of my friends are on app.net, there is no reason for me to open an account there, much less pay for one.
app.net emphasizes that it has an open and developer encouraged API. This being said, they probably will be successful if the targeted users are the tech advocates. “Long-tail” groups are usually loyal to a specific service if they can’t get it anywhere else. Their loyalty might show in dollar signs, but mine certainly doesn’t.