A post yesterday on Social Media Today pointed out an aspect of the new Google+ Terms of Service for its custom URLs, which it has been rolling out gradually to all pages and profiles.
The second bullet states that Google+ may start charging for URLs in the future, with notice given before the fact. Google must have some faith that users will pay for a custom username; however, if a user isn’t a marketer or is just using their Google+ profile for personal reasons, they may not be so inclined.
Other Paid Social Media Networks
The concept of charging for social networks, either as a whole or for certain components, is not a new one. The Verge reported in September 2013 that Path, a private social network focused on sharing content with your inner circle, will begin selling monthly and annual subscriptions for access to virtual stickers and additional camera filters. Subscriptions range from $1.99 for the Android app, $4.99 for a 3 month iOS subscription, and $14.99 for an annual subscription on either platform.
Another example of a paid social network that has gotten some visibility is App.net, which was launched by Dalton Caldwell in August 2012. App.net focuses on allowing users to have once account to connect to several different social applications, including HootSuite and Pocket.
The creators of App.net are hoping that by promising users that they exclusively own their content and hosting a platform that is targeted specifically to developers, they can catch a market that is willing to pay.
LinkedIn is another example of a social network that has a freemium model (same as App.net).
From a marketers’ standpoint, the pressure to pay for social media marketing has increased recently. The changes to the newsfeed algorithm on Facebook in the past few years has made it harder for company pages to appear on users’ news feeds, unless they have paid for a promoted post. In addition, promoted tweets from Twitter have promised brands substantially more visibility than they would get organically, states Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, on Forbes.com.
No matter where paid social networks go next, the big question is: if the other big social media networks (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) go paid with a freemium version, will users follow?
Would you pay for a custom Google+ URL?
Google+ TOS screenshot taken 11/11/2013.
App.net pricing screenshot taken 11/11/2013.