Why Wouldn’t You Pay For Facebook?

I don’t think Facebook would ever charge, at least in the immediate future. They have plenty of investment capital, they’re bringing in money with advertising. The business model (is there a business model?) relies on getting as many people in to view advertisements. Charging for FB would reduce that number. There’s no reason for them to charge their users. None of their competitors charge users.

Yet, many of those users appear to be frightened of getting charged like it’s an inevitability.

But let’s say FB charged $15 a year for its services. Would that really be so bad? I think that’s reasonable – works out to under $2 a month.

Think of all the things one can use Facebook for:

  • Writing blog posts and sharing links
  • Upload and view photos from all your friends
  • Keep up with all your friends and maybe make some new ones
  • Plan your summer barbecue, birthday parties, or other social gatherings with Events
  • Share similar interests with other like-minded people with Groups

On top of that, maybe a paid account gives you privileges like priority for requests and removes all site advertising. Isn’t that worth the money?

Apparently, no. FB isn’t as valuable as a CD. Or a book. Or a magazine subscription. Or a DVD you may only watch once. Or two tickets to the movies (before snacks). Not to some people.

Which is odd, I think, for the most popular destination on the internet. People visit this site every day. It’s become a part of their world. Yet, charge $2 a month for this service that’s clearly improved the lives of some people and it’s over.

When did we get so stingy? I’m not sure it’s that, because we are willing to pay for some things that cost as much or more, whether they’re needs or wants:

  • Gasoline
  • Coffee everyday on your way to work
  • $70 monthly cellphone plan with unlimited minutes (which you’d never use, because you’re on Facebook with it anyway)
  • Drinks with friends
  • Satellite TV

There’s a disconnect here. I think sometime in the past 15 years most of us learned that tangible goods are worth more than digital ones, or that tangible goods are the only ones worth paying for.

2 thoughts on “Why Wouldn’t You Pay For Facebook?”

  1. Very interesting point.

    I agree that for the amount of time people spend on Facebook, compared to watching a DVD or even reading a book, a nominal fee shouldn’t be out of the question.

    This gets into an interesting discussion about consumer’s entitlement conceptions (especially on the Internet.) I don’t remember who I heard recently talking about the $1 divide. That as soon as something costs $1, it’s going to turn off 95% of potential users. (What am I thinking, I’m sure it was Chris Anderson.)

    Maybe if Facebook DID charge, and people DID decide that they’d rather go for a walk, write a blog post on their own site, or what have you… maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing? I kid. Procrastinators don’t have trouble swapping flavors.

    Um…. in conclusion: excellent point, Dan.

  2. I think a lot of that is covered in Predictable Irrational. Free became the anchor price, so there’s a lot of resistance based on principle.

    This is for a larger post, but last night I was looking at Fusion records from the 70s. Lots of these were never digitized for the iTunes era, so they’re only available on Vinyl or CD.

    The price for a lot of them was between $50 and $200. I’ll think of that whenever I try to talk myself out of a $9.99 album download.

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