This makes sense – why pass up on a revenue opportunity when it’s there for the taking? LinkedIn has been offering both free and premium accounts since the very beginning. At it’s core, LinkedIn is a business network, and if you want access to more professionals there, you have to pay for it. It looks like a significant percentage of the folks on LinkedIn are willing to do just that – maybe it has something to do with how serious people are about finding jobs right now.
People who are using Twitter to tell friends they’re going to the movies or taking the dog to the park will find the premium service irrelevant, but they don’t need it either. On the other hand, businesses interested in knowing more about who’s following them will certainly be willing to pay a fee for that service. After all, Twitter can already be used to conduct research – might as well have some idea about who your audience is to begin with.
But when it comes to fees, the dominant gorilla in the room is obviously wearing a Facebook t-shirt. What happens when they start charging? When you have 250 million people using your site daily, there must be a lot of temptation to build revenue beyond banner ads. Facebook will probably begin by charging brands a monthly or annual fee. After all, right now these same brands get access to the massive Facebook audience – for free. As far as individual user fees go, that’s anyone’s guess. Because as soon as Facebook wants to charge for membership, there are going to be a lot of people looking for an alternative. And that means another social network that will begin as a free service, too.