Blog Post

Social Networks? Free? Who Pays? How?

This transcript from an NPR piece on Social Networks and how they are growing by the millions but still can't pay for themselves.   One person they interviewed on this subject was Fred Stutzman, of the University of North Carolina, and who was the first Director of Social Networking for the HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition.   As readers of my Cat in the Stack blog know, I worry a lot about all the way that "information wants to be free"----but is costing someone a lot.   How it eventually pays for itself is the issue, and there are good thoughts in this essay.  Here's the url and an excerpt of Fred's smart comments.


Social Networks: They're Popular, But Will They Pay?


Fred Stutzman, who studies social networks at the University ofNorth Carolina, thinks charging for services will turn out to be thebest way for social networks to get profitable.

"People will pay for good technology," he says. "People will pay for a responsive company."

Hepoints to the professional networking site LinkedIn. It offers somefree services, but users pay for a premium level with more features.With only 40 million users, LinkedIn is significantly smaller thanFacebook or MySpace, but it's making a profit.

Facebook,though, may face a bit of a conundrum. There are two groups on the sitecalled "We Will Not Pay To Use Facebook. If This Happens We Are Gone."Their combined membership? Nearly 8 million.

Stutzman thinksthat ultimately Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are going to be aroundfor a long time. They just might not be the big cash cows that somepeople expect."


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