When you saw the headline, I’m sure many of you were disgusted and immediately said no and might even have prefaced that no with some profanity. Of course some of you will never use Facebook under any circumstances so a cost would further discourage you.
This topic came to mind when a friend sent me a message filled with anger at the idea that Facebook would charge anything for their service and vowed to immediately stop using it if a fee were introduced. I had to talk that friend off the ledge a bit and explain to them what might really happen.
Sure, articles have been written hinting that Facebook may charge a fee. It may happen and it may not happen. But if there is a fee, there would be something you receive in return for that fee. Facebook has worked hard to built a massive number of users and they aren’t going to do something that will push those users away.
Let’s turn to the source and see exactly what Facebook says. “Facebook is a free site and will never require that you pay to continue using the site.” If you feel that you will be required to pay, I hope that statement will help you understand that it will never be a requirement. There are urban legends floating around that claim there will be a membership fee and they are nothing but urban legends.
Now that we know it will never be required and that posts claiming otherwise are urban legends, let’s explore circumstances where there could be a fee and why you would want to pay that fee.
How does Facebook make money now? Advertising is a big part of it. Companies pay to show their ad or post to more people. There are also games which have elements in them that cost money. This means Facebook wants you to look at the ads and play the games as it helps them make money.
I have never personally played a game on Facebook and it drives me nuts when I see posts claiming someone I know has reached a new level or achieved a new high score. Even worse are the requests I get from friends to play a game. Each time I see these types of posts, I immediately go into my settings and permanently block that app (game). If Facebook provided a way for me to never see anything game related, I would like that. How much would it be worth to me or anyone else to never see anything game related? I don’t have a number in my head, but there is definitely a value to it. It is doubtful Facebook would offer such a feature without a charge since it effectively blocks one of their sources of revenue.
There are some people who hate seeing advertising anywhere on the Internet. That also spills over to Facebook as users complain about seeing advertising. I think Facebook has done a good job of merging ads into the site so they aren’t overly intrusive. Heck, I even click on them from time-to-time as I see a promoted post or Fan Page that interests me. That’s the whole idea, right? Companies are looking to find new customers and pay to promote themselves. If the company (or post) doesn’t interest me, I simply move on to something else. Those that interest me, I click.
Advertising is a major source of Facebook’s revenue and it it won’t be going away. For those of you who hate advertising, Facebook could offer a way to visit the site ad-free for a fee. I don’t mind the ads and therefore I wouldn’t be willing to pay to remove them. Some of you would probably be willing to pay a small monthly fee to remove ads.
I’ve now touched on two specific areas of user frustration where Facebook could make users happier for a small monthly fee. If these were introduced, I bet there would even be a discount if you paid in advance for a year. Whatever the fees, it would have to replace the revenue currently received from the games or advertising. How much is each user worth to Facebook in those two areas? I don’t know.
Let’s just say that these two options were available. Either one separately would cost something like $3.99 a month or $29.95 a year. For those who want to eliminate both ads and games maybe it would be $5.99 a month and $49.95 a year. As much as I hate the game posts, I’m not sure I would be willing to pay. Yet I won’t be surprised if something like this exists at some point in the future. Would it be worth it to you to pay these types of fees? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.