Reversing the paradigm?

Sharing free information is what makes the whole social media thing so powerful. But what if you had to pay for it?

A crazy idea, surely, that would defeat the whole point of social networking. Information as a free commodity is increasingly what makes the world go round. But Sean Carton argues in that for some people exclusivity is something to be sought after. Take Google’s beta trials – the cache of being asked to participate is so great for a certain audience that the restricted number of invitations are traded like a sort of currency.

Carton’s point is that as people become used to having free access to information, that which is restricted will start to have a greater appeal.  What, he asks, if businesses began to monetize social media access not by seeking more followers or subscribers or “friends” but by restricting access?

‘What if Justin Bieber charged a subscription fee for his tweets? What if you could only get “exclusive” Lady Gaga pictures when you paid for the privilege? What if you could only become a fan of a brand (with access to insider information, special deals, etc.) if you were either invited through some exclusive process or had to pay to get in?’

Reversing the paradigm faces various obstacles at present. An obvious one is that networking sites aren’t geared for a ‘pay-to-play’ model. But sooner or later businesses are going to start thinking about how they can use information not merely to draw attention to themselves but also to add revenues, and there may be an opening here they can work on.

Read Carton’s interesting piece .

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