While most brands and entrepreneurs forget that social media is about being social when it comes to designing a marketing strategy, it seems that almost everyone is forgetting that these sites are media sites and that they work exactly like magazines, radio or television.
They capture the attention of their users and they sell this attention to advertisers. But what’s different between Facebook and the television, is that Facebook has way more data about their users. That way, Facebook can tell the advertiser that according to their users’ interests and the content their users interact with, they are very likely to engage with the ad they’re going to see.
These precise data are getting more and more problematic for users. People tend to get suspicious about their private life and their private data. But the more precise the data, the more valuable it is for the media. And getting the most precise data is totally the goal of social media sites.
Because of these suspicions from the users, people are starting to rethink the business model of social media and the business model of the internet in general: advertising.
Advertising is what have shaped the internet until now. Everything on the internet is made for the users to be exposed to ads. The only way to get rid of them? Usually by paying. Premium plans exist on most websites and services and their main offer is to provide an ad-free experience.
But you can’t pay to protect your data on Facebook or Instagram.
And that ad-free program cannot be a simple omission from those major companies. That simply means that your personal info and data are worth way more than $9.99 a month..! Basically, it won’t be as profitable for social media sites.
What if social media sites were ad-free?
Let’s say that you’d get an ad-free experience on Facebook and Instagram for $9.99 a month. What would change on the platform?
Not much honestly. You just won’t see this not so annoying sponsored content after every 10–15 posts on your timeline.
A subscription won’t bring back the chronological feed.
And the reason why is quite simple: Facebook wants you to spend time on their platform. Facebook wants you to come back regularly so you can see what happened, just so they can keep you interested and curious, just so you can keep paying the subscription fee for the longest period of time possible.
And they can only do that by filtering your feed: they decide to show you first what you’ll be more likely to engage with.
Going back to a chronological feed would be taking the risk to provide low quality content to someone’s feed. That would result in the users leaving Facebook and potentially quit paying a subscription the next month.
Advertising is not dead!
Don’t trust people that say that it is. Facebook is the biggest advertising platform in the world, it’s also the one that allows the most precise targeting and the one that has the highest ROI. Facebook has absolutely no interest in giving away an ad-free version of their site for a couple of bucks a month. Because each and every user of the platform is a client that can be targeted by marketers, and some can be targeted for a lot of money!
Same thing applies for Google or Youtube. Youtube is trying to push their users to a paid plan. Results aren’t promising and subscribers aren’t entirely satisfied with their subscription advantages. Results are, YouTube is still making more money through advertising, and all their attempt to provide a premium plan to their users is pretty much a fail so far.
Advertising used to be awful a couple years ago. Pop-ups and other super agressive form of advertising were extremely common. But because of the popularity of Facebook and all other social media and the way they integrate paid content in their users’ feed, a more respectful and discrete form of advertising became the norm again. Those who are bothered by the amount of ads on Facebook or Twitter truly don’t remember how aggressive the internet used to be!
Subscriptions, vip accesses, ad-free experiences won’t become the new business model of the internet. Paid plans won’t bring back data privacy and won’t bring back chronological newsfeeds. Social media sites are media! They act like media and they get paid like media: they know their audience, they push ads to their audience, and they bring value to the people that consume their site.
Do you feel like you tried everything to grow on Instagram? Hopefully, what follows will be the last thing you will have to do to reach your goals.
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