Would a premium social-networking model cause users to flee in the consumer goods world?

Would a premium social-networking model cause users to flee in the consumer goods world?

This post was written by Mirna Bard, a social-media consultant, speaker, author and instructor of social media at the University of California at Irvine.

SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social-media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: Would you pay a monthly fee to use a social-networking site?

  • I would rather delete my account than pay a service charge  — 58.49%
  • I would pay only if I was using it for professional/business reasons — 28.30%
  • I would need my network to introduce some extra features to make paying the fee worthwhile  — 9.97%
  • I’d be happy to pay, if the fee was reasonable  — 3.23%

Many studies are detailing the rapid growth of social-network use. Is there anything that could bring this trend to a half? If this week’s poll numbers are any indication, social networks imposing a fee might just do the trick. A majority of SmartBrief on Social Media readers say they would rather delete their social-networking account than pay a service charge.

I asked readers if they would pay for social networking only out of wonder. I was interested to see how hooked people were on their favorite social sites, and if anything would change their online networking and relationship-building habits. The answer is very apparent. But I would still be curious to see if many would stick to their guns if social sites were to start charging tomorrow. I may be speaking for myself, but I believe many of us have built such great personal and professional relationships online that it would be too difficult to delete an account and walk away.

For years, I’ve been hearing that some social networks are considering minimal fees to monetize their sites, but I have yet to see that happen. I’m guessing these networks realize a premium model does pose many challenges, such as losing users to free sites. For the sake of SmartBrief readers, businesses and everyone else who is social networking, let’s hope none of our favorite social sites start charging.

How likely would you be to delete a social-networking account if a site starting charging a membership fee? What would make you stick around?

SmartBlog on Social Media – Best Practices and Case Studies on Social Media Marketing for Business

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