Weeks ago an article circulated through the web about the hypothetical situation of Twitter being a paid service. The main conclusion? Nobody wants to pay for Twitter. Then even later on Paul Hebert made a post on his widely read Incentive Intelligence blog on how he is taking a break from social media. His reasoning? There is way too much junk and clutter out there to consume. He states (and follows through) with how he went on an unfollowing spree on Twitter and cutting back on the social media noise.
Who could disagree with that? Social media is great! I obviously love it because I have a social media-related job, use it myself and if you've read this blog more than once....I like to talk about it. The features and possibilities social tools have to offer are absolutely amazing. However, there is a lot of "crap" out there and it is quite a chore to filter through and be able to get good, fresh and unique content easily.
Then I thought about it...what about paid social media?
Just take a devil's advocate look at the concept a bit. This may seem like it would unfairly weed out some demographics. However, it would reduce the clutter. By making that financial investment, people who are involved in those premium conversations are those who are more serious about being there. More genuine in ways. Not saying there wouldn't be exceptions but would a paid service increase the quality of the information that came across your screen?
This isn't a completely new concept. Chris Brogan and others have already set the standard with Third Tribe Marketing, charging its members a premium to have access to the discussions that happen there. Obviously the information there is important enough to people to pay a monthly subscription to participate in whatever conversation is taking place on that platform. I'm also sure there isn't an overload of information. With the subscription comes fewer members and less opportunity for "junk" to come about.
Of course, the idea of paying for social media is completely counter-intuitive from a marketers perspective. Having a restricted space would squeeze out traditional marketing messages and would have a much smaller reach than social media does now. Brands wouldn't be able to target and engage with near the fans or followers that they do now.
Is there a case where paid social media would be appropriate? Just being hypothetical. What do you think? Would you invest?
**Update: Found another interesting article from ClickZ talking about paid social media. More fodder for the conversation**