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If you’re a user of Facebook then you’re bound to have seen the endless round of panic posts stating that Facebook are going to start charging to use the network. Followed by the endless cries of “if that’s true then I’m leaving”.
But at the end of the day, these social media networks are actually a business and they have to make money from somewhere. Whether it’s charging users to use the site, charging businesses to promote their companies or charging for add ons such as games – they have to turn a profit in order to retain their space on the internet.
The majority of the revenue made by social media companies is from advertising. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more recently Pinterest all work on a basis of paid or promoted posts. Organic reach is dwindling at a dramatic rate so companies are forced in to paying and hopping on board the “pay to play” model.
But do users of social media like advertisements? Well, if you ask the users of the sites then the answer is likely to be no. Let’s take Instagram as an example. They rolled out promoted adverts a year ago and the comments on first ad for Michael Kors were almost all negative. However, after a statement setting out their intentions for advertising on Instagram, users still continued to sign up so perhaps people aren’t that bothered after all?
So would you pay to use a social media network that is completely ad free? Do adverts really hinder the user experience? If you’re someone who takes offence at advertisements then there is now a solution to that problem. Ello is a new social media network that is branding itself as the Anti-Facebok for it’s stance on privacy and advertising.
Ello has only been available to the public, on an invitation only basis, for little over a month but it’s already becoming the hottest ticket on the internet.
Based in Vermont, Ello has been created by designer and entrepreneur Paul Budnitz and claims that it’s biggest selling point is that it’s an advert free zone.
In a manifesto on their website, the site states:
Your social network is owned by advertisers.
Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.
We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.
We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.
You are not a product.
But as ideal as the idea of a social media network without adverts or dreaded dating mining is, the company has to make money in order to survive. Whilst at the moment it is completely free to use, it is offering users a chance to use premium features for a fee such as a few dollars for a designer emoji pack or a multiple-account login.
But to design and develop a network to rival the likes of Facebook and Twitter takes money. Blogger Andy Baio makes a very good point when it comes to the network remaining ad-free. He notes that the network’s creators “took a $435,000 round of seed funding in January from FreshTracks Capital, a Vermont-based VC firm that announced the deal in March.” And, he writes, “Unless they have a very unique relationship with their investors, Ello will inevitably be pushed towards profitability and an exit, even if it compromises their current values.”
Investors are always going to want to see a return on their investment and lets not forget that Facebook and Twitter both started out as ad-free platforms. And if they want to grow then the only way to do that is to have a large revenue stream, something that $2 emojji packs won’t be able to cover.
Come join in the conversation on Twitter and tell us – would you prefer to pay to use a social media network that had no ads?
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