Facebook has said that it is “free and always will be.” But nothing is ever free – we’re just paying for Facebook in other ways. Here are three reasons why I would be willing to pay a subscription fee.
First, you must acknowledge that we already pay for Facebook in other ways. We have to view ads, we give up some of our personal information and privacy to them, we spend extra time sorting through a feed filled with sponsored stories and recommended apps. We pay little bits at a time, in the currency of time, privacy, and distraction.
And that’s fine. That’s one model, and it certainly works. If it’s a fun little service that you use sometimes, balancing that by viewing some ads and telling Facebook about yourself doesn’t seem like that bad of a deal. They have to pay all those developers and run all those servers somehow. An immensely huge and complex site like Facebook doesn’t exist just to be nice. It doesn’t work that way. Ever.
But many of us use Facebook for much more than just an occasional visit. We run businesses, coordinate groups, market our brands, communicate with family, and keep in touch with friends around the globe. I pay for my cell phone, cable tv, stamps to mail letters, Tivo service, and even a few dollars to play the song I want on the digital jukebox. Shouldn’t I be willing to pay for a service I use regularly?
The Three Reasons I’d Be Willing To Pay
1. Goodbye Advertising
If I could get rid of all the ads, all the sponsored stories, all the suggested apps, all the hints of pages I might like, in exchange for a subscription fee to offset the money they would earn from showing me those ads, I would do it. I would appreciate a clean site without distractions. I’m annoyed at always having something trying to be sold to me. (Even though Social Fixer hides these things on my desktop, I still see them on mobile!)
2. User Happiness Would Become Priority #1
Right now, Facebook is focused on creating new features and functionality that maximizes their appeal to advertisers and other markets. Much of what they introduce is marketed to us users and something for our benefit, but in reality it’s because it enables better tracking of data about us to sell to marketers, or it lets them display more ads to us, or it keeps us on the site longer so we see more ads.
If we paid for our service, they would focus primarily on what we want, to keep us here and paying! True, they have an interest in making us happy now, because if we leave they will lose advertising money. But they only care about making us just happy enough so we don’t leave. They don’t really have to cater to us. Just don’t annoy us enough that we quit. Wouldn’t it be great if they were working hard to give users what we really want, to keep us there and paying our subscription fee?
3. Enhanced Features
If a Facebook subscriptions had multiple levels, I could choose the level at which I’m willing to pay for the services I need. If there is a premium package that gives me more ability to customize my experience, and more advanced “power user” features, I would consider paying a higher fee. I run a Page with over 300,000 followers, so I recognize that my needs may be very different than a casual user who logs in once a week. If a higher subscription fee could be used to focus a portion of development on features that a smaller segment of users would find useful, rather than always catering to the masses, that would be worth it to me.
Would You Pay?
So, what do you think? Would you be willing to pay for Facebook? If so, how much? In exchange for what?
What are your thoughts? Share them in comments on the Social Fixer Page on Facebook!
– Matt Kruse, developer of Social Fixer