The Cost of Staying Connected

By: James Flippin · March 29, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Facing Pressure

Many large social media companies like Meta Platforms (META), Snapchat (SNAP), YouTube (GOOGL), and, until recently, Twitter, are publicly traded. As such, they face constant pressure from shareholders to increase revenue on a quarterly basis.

At the same time, platforms like Facebook are starting to mature and show signs of slowing user growth.

Historically, nearly all features and products offered by these social media giants were free to use. The platforms relied almost entirely on advertising revenue to keep the doors open. But now, social media companies are exploring paid services as a way of generating more profit.

Twitter’s Switch-Up

Twitter CEO Elon Musk announced that only tweets by verified users will show up in Twitter’s “For You” feed, where users see recommended tweets from accounts they follow. Musk also recently reiterated the company’s intention to rollback its “legacy verified checkmarks.” In other words, paying users will soon hold the only verified Twitter accounts.

With these changes, paid users will have a massive advantage over free users when it comes to getting their content seen by others. Twitter Blue, the subscription package that includes the platform’s trademark blue tick, currently costs $8 per month.

Meta Platforms and Snapchat have also launched similar subscription services.

Power Struggle

There is no doubt that social media plays a critical role in the world we live in. But would users be willing to pay to access their timelines? Or would people start deleting their accounts en masse if they were forced to pay for a service that has always been free?

So far, none of the social media companies have pivoted to becoming a 100% paid service. However, with more paid features emerging each month, that could well be the direction in which we are heading.

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