I believe the economical crisis hitting the world right now has affected the social media business. Despite the fact the market still grows, and there are a lot of room for innovation, entrepreneurs have been challenged by the lower capacity to raise money, but also the aim to find a strong business model. I posted last week an article about how we could imagine someday Facebook asking users to pay for the service, as they were looking for sustainable sources of revenues.
For the longest time, the Internet companies have based their business model on the revenues of advertising. As the market was growing, it was easy for companies to get attention from brands to advertize on websites.
Also, another very common business model strategy for Internet companies was what iscold freemium: Propose a free service to user, attractive enough to get them hooked, and to convince them to upgrade to a version they would pay for.
But Freemium still remains a problem.
“6.5 million unique users is not all that it’s cracked up to be. I don’t want hits. I want revenue. I want a real business,” said Matt Wensing, founder and CEO of Stormpulse, in aninterview with Mixergy.
In the oft-cited Hershey’s experiment that started the free-mania, behavioral economists from MIT tested customer preference for Hershey’s and Ferrero Rocher chocolates at two different price points. For one group, they offered Hershey’s at one cent and Ferrero Rocher for 26 cents. For another, they offered the chocolates at zero cents and 25 cents respectively. When the Hershey’s chocolate was free and the Ferrero Rocher chocolate was 25 cents, 90 percent of the participants chose Hershey’s. $0 price seems to have done the magic in driving customer adoption. The result became the foundation of the freemium school of thought — free is free marketing. First use the free version to drive adoption and build a large customer base, and then find ways to monetize that base by upselling the paid version and selling extras.