Lumina Blog Post

Free, everything for free, at what cost though…

#marketing #businessmodel #socialmedia

I had an interesting discussion today about our new Social Media platform


Me: is a Social Media platform for content creation, curation and aggregation. It’s going to be a tool for companies to show what they are about in a single place. Our motto is ‘Bring your background into focus’.

Him: Ok, ok, how do you make money?

Me: We have subscription plans. It’s a work tool. Companies will use it to broadcast their content and connect to their social media platforms.


Him: Nobody’s gonna pay for it.


By that time, the guy I was talking to had not seen a demo yet.


Him: Facebook is free. People won’t pay for it. I don’t know a business that would pay for it.


Me: Well, I’ve already met several businesses that would be happy to join our subscription model. They see that we are creating value with this tool.


Him: I wouldn’t pay for Facebook and Facebook has one billion users.



The person I was talking to obviously didn’t have any interest in listening, he was only channeling the superficial information we receive from the online chatter.


However, this all discussion got me thinking about how superficial market assessments can be. This is even without considering how much value Facebook, with its millions of users, is actually generating for businesses. 

I was at a presentation recently by Mark Ritson, where he was pointing out that social media metrics are extremely variable, lacking in consistency and supporting evidence of their effectiveness. Try it for yourself, just Google social media metrics and see what you get. There is not much out there.


So Facebook, Twitter, etc are all free but at what cost? Businesses are investing lots of money in SEO, in internal efforts, in PR campaigns, and marketing initiatives for tools whose effectiveness has not been proven (yet). I wouldn’t call that ‘free’.


Sure, you don’t pay to join the platform but you pay for the associated costs.


I guess it boils down to how much value are you providing as a business/product? Is that value something people would pay for? This is valid for every product. I am sure you know the saying about ‘selling ice to Eskimos’.


In that context, I am paying for my Google Apps and Salesforce accounts, I am paying for my online storage, I would pay for a LinkedIn Pro account and I guess many other tools that provide me with a value that I can translate into my business. Just like I pay for my nice cappuccinos and chai lattes at my business meetings.


Is it time to break out of the free model? I think it’s time that we start thinking with our own head and break free of the thoughts that have been instilled into us by those ‘marketing experts’ whose only objective is self-promotion.


There is no recipe for anything. Our job is to do everything we can to create value, and I am absolutely certain that if we create something that people see a need for, they will be happy to pay for it.


And if people don’t want to pay for it, then is there a need for it?

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