How often do you read about social media applications like Twitter, where the question is: Yes, but how will they monetize it? Or, Sure, the guy has a great blog, but how can he monetize that?
Well, here’s my question: Isn’t “How can we monetize that?” the question that all those financial wizards were asking each other for the last decade? Isn’t trying to figure out how to make money from out of thin air at least part of the reason we are in the economic situation we currently find ourselves in? And the dot.com boom of the late-90s, didn’t that house of cards collapse when everybody tried to leverage eyeballs into venture capital money only to realize, they couldn’t monetize their clever ideas? Yeah, monetizing, that’s the answer!
Maybe worrying about monetize absolutely every aspect of our existence is a pretty poor lifestyle choice. Maybe charging for everything – and feeling the need to buy everything – isn’t a particularly sustainable model.
I’m not suggestion we all forget about work, become artists and live in some sort of communal fantasy world where everything is free, but maybe there isn’t a business model for Twitter – or shouldn’t be. Maybe it’s just some incredibly cool thing that was built for people to use. Now, does that mean that maybe we all need to chip in to help keep it free? Ok, maybe that’s the cost.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Toby Daniels at the Social Media Week closing party on Friday night. Toby was the leading driver (though by his own admission certainly not the sole one) behind the week long event. Now, I don’t know Toby, but he spent about five minutes chatting with me and it was clear that Social Media Week was not a money maker, nor was it intended to be. I think that fact freed him to do so many things, good, positive things, that would never have happened had he charged attendees, or jammed up sponsors, etc. So, what’s in it for Toby? Well, this guy is living life and he’s doing it in a way that brings value to others. If that’s your goal, everything else works itself out.
To me, social media isn’t an angle to play in a bid to grab some cash. It’s a lifestyle to be shared and enjoyed with other, likeminded individuals. If employment opportunities or chances to make a little cash come along, great. But my bet is that the guys at Twitter could figure out some sort of cloud sharing server option where all users foot a little bit of the bill if they needed to.