There is nothing like social media platforms that have influenced human life in recent history. Available to everyone with just a few clicks, the virtual world opens up different doors and today, it is an inevitable part of our life.
As we continue the development of various technologies, the world of social media platforms is also under constant change.
It has developed through different stages and taken the form we see today. Unlike the majority of services, social media services are available to us without the liability of any points.
Looking at it from a different angle makes us question the availability of these services. How can social media platforms be offered for free? How do the companies benefit if the service is free? Will it be free forever?
It is true that social media platforms and the services offered by these platforms are available to us free of cost. But as profit is the ultimate aim of any company, it can be easily inferred that the companies are generating revenue in one way or another.
The major return that the companies get from their social media platform users is their time and attention. Along with these, sometimes these companies use the content generated by the users.
Another major method through which these companies generate revenue is through advertisement.
As almost every activity of an individual now takes place through these social media platforms, it is easier for these companies to -get hold of different information regarding the location, preferences, and interests of a user.
Through this accurate information, they can also easily target advertisements and make marketing of certain products more effective.
But the case is not the same now. Compared to earlier times, there had been a significant change in the revenue generated through advertisement.
There are different reasons for this change like changes in advertising markets, new privacy restrictions imposed by Apple, and also the threat of regulation that has significantly affected the revenue generated through advertisement.
This reason is cited to begin a new era for social media platforms. The services that we take for granted now are soon expected to be turned into paid services and will not be available for free for long.
Most recently, the largest among social media companies, Meta announced ‘Meta Verified’ where a paid version of Meta’s products will be available to users.
Through the program, major Meta platforms like Facebook and Instagram will be charging a fee of $12 for a blue verification badge for a month.
While the users are expected to make a payment of the said amount, the platforms will provide services like additional security for the account, preventing account impersonation and such different methods.
While privacy is an important matter in the cyber world, the major attractive feature of the levied amount is the more reach and visibility guaranteed to the account that makes the payment.
This means that if you own an account that pays the monthly fee asked by the platform, chances are very high that the content you post through that account will have a better reach than people who use the platform without making any payment.
The contents of the users who make the payment will have higher chances of appearing in searches, comments, and also in recommendations.
It should be kept in mind that the things discussed now are not a thing of the future but are happening as we discuss this. The new feature of the social media platforms is set to come into effect in Australia and New Zealand for a test run.
If the test run and the follow-up process of the change become successful, it is expected that the feature will be introduced to more countries like the United States and other countries very soon.
So, as the system of conventional social media practices changes, the people who make a monthly payment are said to enjoy certain features that are not available to free users.
While privacy and protection were a free feature that was provided by the platforms, the new feature makes sure that people are charged a fee for the service of privacy and protection of their accounts.
Only people who make the payment will be able to safeguard their information and account against threats like impersonation.
Also, the direct line of contact to customer support will also no longer be a free service.
While the firm makes it clear that a basic level of customer service will be available for the free version, only the paid users will have direct support. If a normal user is true of customer support beyond the provided basic level, then there is no other way that changes the version to a paid one.
As the new feature allows paid users to have an edge over normal users in terms of reach and visibility of their content, Meta is effectively thinning the distinction between advertising and organic content in social media platforms.
As platforms like Facebook and Instagram have their fair share of advertisements now, the effect of a much more commercialized platform is something that we cannot predict now.
When Customer Support And Security Come At A Cost
Generally, it is the company that provides the service that offers the customer services for any kind of inconvenience that they have faced.
People are used to such services and it is one of the main reasons why people argue that customer support on social media platforms should be the full responsibility of the platform and that the service should be provided free of cost.
While Meta is ready to provide basic customer support to their users for free, the platforms like Facebook which deals with over two billion customers in a single day demand that an additional cost should be collected from people for services like direct on-call customer service or personal level support.
While the debate on making customer service a paid service goes on, people have pointed out the fact the support provided by Facebook has always not been that good. The platform only gave personal level attention to celebrities, or other popular figures and not to other common users.
Even though it seems platforms like Facebook are going to charge for a service that they have provided for free, it should be noted that they are going to charge for something that they never really did.
Paying For Reach
If you are an average social media user, then the provision of receiving more reach for payment might not appeal to you just. But instead, if you are a small business owner, then you will be aware of the effects that can have on the growth of your business.
According to statistics, the influencer industry that thrives through social media platforms is valued at around $16 billion.
Even though TikTok is growing considerably, Instagram remains the most popular and preferred platform for influencer marketing. Also, it is estimated that there are almost 200 million businesses that are present on Facebook.
While there are different bright sides to the new version it should not be forgotten that lately, people are losing interest in social media platforms.
Many users are reported to deactivate or delete their accounts in order to feel more authentic and less commercial. Some people move on by finding alternate apps that offer them these qualities.
The paid version is speculated to have an effect on this kind of people and paying an additional amount will only push them further away from these social media platforms – Only the future will tell.