Tag Archives: Social Media

I Would Actually Pay Real Money

Remember those Facebook hoax-posts in which people would decry Facebook’s plan to charge its users a membership fee? There’d be some misdirected outrage, and then someone would clear things up by saying “no, Facebook is not planning to do that.”

I wish they HAD been planning to do that.

Facebook’s actual plans were far more problematic. At a high level, the plan was to monetize their user base as a product, rather than as customers. This meant selling the product to OTHER customers—advertisers and market research firms, for starters. I don’t mind being advertised to, but in order for the monetization to work, Facebook had to step into our feeds and adjust the content we were seeing.

Facebook became less useful to us, and this loss of utility was hidden much of the time. When we actually noticed it, it was status quo.

Twitter is doing similar things to monetize their user base. The insertion of Promoted Tweets is the most immediately intrusive, but recently they’ve begun mucking with our timelines in order to adjust the content we see.

Look, I get it. These companies are providing an exceptionally valuable communication service to hundreds of millions of users. They deserve to be paid for that. The question is, what’s the best way to pay them? What will make them the most money, while keeping their users not just happy, but loyal?

Twitter’s 2014 revenue was $1.4B. They have over 900 million users, but most of those users do not tweet things. If we assume, conservatively, that there are only 100 million human beings actively using Twitter’s service, they were worth $14 each during 2014. Much of that money was paid in by advertisers.

$14 isn’t much. It’s less than $1.20 per month. I would cheerfully round up, and pay $20 for an annual Twitter membership without batting an eyelash.

For that money I would obviously expect to NOT be monetized further. Don’t market to me, don’t promote Tweets, don’t mess with my feeds. Maybe give me instead some cool tools that let me better manage this awesome communications tool.

If those 100 million users were willing to pay $20/year for “Twitter Prime,” Twitter’s revenues would be $2B. It’s not beyond the pale to further assume that their profit margins would be better, since all the overhead that goes into making a useful advertising engine could be dust-binned. Additionally, Twitter would become far more valuable to its users (who are now CUSTOMERS,) and they’d attract more paying users pretty quickly.

In the grand scope of Big Business and All Things Internet, two billion dollars is chump change. That money would not turn Twitter into a financial powerhouse. Of course, neither will their current plans, so “displace Google” is a business goal that should be swept off the table.

Ultimately, the social media business model needs to change. Consumers of social media should be able to become customers, not by purchasing “eyeballs,” “likes,” or “followers,” but by purchasing better access to the actual social media services; services that would better serve those who use it.

I cannot conceive this discussion NOT having taken place somewhere in Twitter’s offices. What I don’t understand is the business requirements that shut that discussion down, preventing them from selling me a decent service.

Muting, And Why I’m a Selfish Twitterer

Twitter has a mute function, and I use it rather indiscriminately. I’m kind of selfish that way. Life is short, and while there are thousands of people willing to listen to me (a happy accident no doubt related to how I earn my keep) I don’t have the time to listen to each and every one of them.

But I have friends whose tweets I want to read, and with whom I want to converse. Publicly, even. I also enjoy interacting with random fans, assuming the interaction is a nice one. I especially enjoy interacting with interesting people, and learning new things.

Unfortunately, Twitter creates the illusion that we are right there in the room while our favorite entertainers banter with one another. The temptation to interject is strong. So we interject. I know, I’ve embarrassed myself doing this exact thing.

In the real world, walking up to a conversation and dropping a one-liner is a bit of a faux pas, and holding up your tablet to show everybody a video, even if it’s related, will get you shouldered out of the circle in short order. (I could tell you a story about that exact thing happening in a bar at Westercon, but then you’d want names, and the location of the body, and I may have already said too much.)

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that Twitter works similarly. Conversations are interesting to listen to, but we should take care before jumping into them with our two cents.

Sometimes I’ll invite all kinds of random input by putting a call out to “the Hivemind.” Recently I asked about Android devices, and got lots of good feedback. The only people I muted were the people who replied by telling me I should stick with the iPhone.

And that brings us to my criteria. Here are a few of the things that will likely earn a muting from me:

  • At-messaging me with unsolicited advice, especially medical advice
  • Tweeting unsolicited links at me
  • Tweeting a video link at me without telling me what it is I’d be watching
  • Answering a question by haranguing me about the context
  • Complaining about a joke I told
  • Not getting the joke, and replying with unsolicited medical advice, or a video link, or really anything
  • Complaining to me about something I retweeted
  • Trolling (sometimes this merits blocking)
  • Spamming (this usually merits blocking)
  • Tweeting at me a lot, especially in a short period of time, when we’re not actually having a conversation.

Does this sound selfish? It should, because it is selfish. But I haven’t listed the worst one yet:

  • Telling me a lame joke.

Jokes are everywhere, and while most people can find the easy punchline, it takes a lot of thought to reach beyond the low-hanging fruit and find something genuinely funny. And as I’ve said before, Twitter is the garden of low-hanging fruit.

Sometimes I’ll tell a joke on Twitter, reaching high into the tree for a good punchline, and somebody will reply at me with the low-hanging fruit that I reached past. Tweets like that correlate strongly with feeds full of underdeveloped jokes, and the desire to share them indiscriminately.

Muted. Life’s too short for me to listen to the same joke over and over.

(Note: if I’m ever guilty of these things, and that bugs you, by all means mute me. Or unfollow me. Because life’s short, and frankly, your time is worth as much to you as mine is to me.)