How much would you pay to use social media if you didn’t have to look at ads?
That’s an important question to ask right now.
One report at Engadget theorized that the social media app formerly known as Twitter (now called X) might offer three different subscription “tiers” for those who hate ads. The news came by way of Bloomberg and mentioned how an X user sifted through some code for the iOS version of the app.
Apparently, the code revealed three different payment plans, including Basic, Standard and Plus. There were no guesses about how much each plan would cost, but Basic would show most ads, Standard would show about 50% fewer ads, and Plus would not show any ads.
Meanwhile, Meta is still muling the idea of charging Facebook users in Europe a monthly fee (possibly around $14 per month) to avoid legal issues related to collecting private information.
My take on all of this: We’re not exactly talking about Netflix here in terms of value. Social media companies have done an incredibly poor job of providing perks and extra features that would be worth a subscription fee.
In fact, part of the business model with both Twitter and Facebook has always been to keep things the same as much as possible, which keeps us mindlessly scrolling.
Here’s what I mean by that:
Introducing new features makes sense for Apple or Samsung when they release new phones, because then we’re more likely to upgrade. With social media, new features are counter-intuitive. The goal is to not introduce anything new or novel. This not only keeps us hooked but also appeases the advertisers. If there was actual value, we might decide to use those new features. We might break out of our trance and do something worthwhile and productive, which means we won’t look at the ads as much. It’s supposed to be a slogfest with no real value.
In recent years, I’ve noticed how more and more Facebook ads show up on my feed, likely due to more targeting. The minute I click on any ad and engage with that content, Facebook likely puts me into a new category of being more susceptible to ads. Fewer of my friends are posting on Facebook these days, which means the ads are popping up even more. Content is king, not purpose or value.
Meanwhile, X continues to lose advertisers and is looking for ways to increase revenue. It’s getting more and more dire, according to Reuters, because each month since Elon Musk took the helm, advertising have steadily declined.
That means the only option left is to charge for the service.
That all begs the question: How much will we pay? I’m guessing the X Plus subscription plan might cost about $16 per month, or twice the current X Premium charge of $8 per month. It’s unclear what that really means other than not seeing ads, because there are few extra features even available. I’ve mentioned this many times now, but social media apps need to start offering more value and incentives. If they can figure out how to offer something worth paying for, maybe it will work.
Until then, my guess is that most people will just live with the ads.
We’ve been doing that now for a decade…plus.