During Social Media Week held in New York City, Abrams Research polled over 200+ social media founders, bloggers, journalists, entrepreneurs and high profile Twitterati members from across the US and Canada asking a simple question, ‘How should social networks be monetized?’ Other topics surveyed ranged from which social networks were the most important to them, to where they see , twitter, linkedin, and other social networks headed, and more.
According to the survey, just under one third (thirty-two percent) said that they would most likely pay to used facebook, with linkedin taking a very close second with thirty percent, and twitter rounding out the top three with twenty two percent.
As far as monetizing social networks, the survey revealed that a “freemium” business model was most acceptable to the audience. A freemium business model is a monetization model that allows users to use a ‘basic’ version of a service for free, and then seeks to add revenue via purchased upgrades. A prime example would be Playfish’s ‘Who Has the Biggest Brain’ application that allows users to access core functionality for free, but offers a ‘Go-Pro!’ option; a one time fee paid by users to access premium content including more games, time trials, etc. An overwhelming forty-six percent of respondents said that freemium was the way to go. Other than twenty percent of those surveyed responding with ‘contextual/targeted ads’, other interesting monetization models paled in comparison. Nine percent stated that social networks should monetize by charging for research, only 6.9 percent liked a subscription model, and traditional banner ads scored the lowest with only three percent liking the idea.
What exactly are social networking users looking for from the experience?
Twenty-four percent of respondents stated that the most critical feature to them is the status update, closely followed by twenty-one percent ranking the newsfeeds as must-haves. Rounding out the top four are comments coming in at seventeen percent, and personal messaging taking home fifteen percent of the pie. Not quite as impressive, yet still noteworthy are those ranking in at less than ten percent: uploading and sharing photos and videos, mass-messaging, and tagging and untagging.
And while facebook tops the list of social networks that users would be willing to pay for, twitter takes the top spot as ‘must haves’ for businesses. Forty-five percent of those surveyed advised businesses to have a twitter account (and presumably interact with clients/customers). with nineteen percent, and oddly enough facebook took the number four spot with fifteen percent.nabbed second place with twenty-one percent,
All’s good, so where’s the problem?
Of the top movers and shakers surveyed, twenty-nine percent said that the biggest problems facing social networks is the “inevitable slide into uncoolness” (myspace, what?). 15.3 percent stated that lack of advertiser interest would be their demise, and 13.4 percent found the ‘inevitable spam problem’ to be the final nail in the coffin.
Download and read the full survey available from Arbrams Research (pdf download).