Will people pay to belong to a social media community?

social media love speech bubble

Fairfax will launch its new social media platform, Connect Pink, in June in the hopes of connecting women in regional Australia. The question is, will users be willing to pay a nominal fee to join this new social network?

I was recently invited to a business breakfast to learn all about a new social media platform, to be launched in June.

Fairfax Media are hoping that their Connect Pink social media platform will become a focal point for regional Australian women online. The aim is to make this social media platform more ‘local’; that is, a place you can connect with friends and family and catch up on the latest news. The news portion of the service makes it slightly different from current platforms, in that you can choose the categories of news that you want in your feed, which will be provided be Fairfax.

The difference is that this will be a paid social media service. In order to belong, you’ll be asked to pay a nominal fee that will go directly to a charity – in the first year that charity will be the McGrath Foundation. Will this put a lot of people off joining? Ros Marsden, director of sales and marketing for Connect Pink, says no. Fairfax believes most people won’t have an issue paying $5, if they know the money will go to a charity.

Another advantage I can see to having members pay to belong, is that they’re therefore prepared to use their credit cards online – so you can think of them as qualified buyers. This may be a selling point to the businesses Fairfax is trying to attract to the new platform. Just like Facebook, Connect Pink will be offering business pages to regional businesses. There’s an annual fee for having a business page, somewhere in the region of $1000.00, which will entitle you (as a business) to advertise to members in your region. If you’d like to advertise outside your region you’ll have to pay for the additional areas. In addition to this, there are a number of marketing widgets that businesses will have access to, including SMS alerts and downloadable vouchers – each of which will also incur an extra fee.

Key to the success of Connect Pink will be if Fairfax can convince regional business this is a great place to advertise, and one that will get them close to their target market with a high return on investment.

The question is, will people (including businesses) pay for something they currently get for free? It really comes down to why people use social media in the first place, and many use it to connect with family and friends and to stay up to date with what’s happening in their world. In order for Connect Pink to make a headway in the social media sphere, they’re going to have to present the benefits of ‘belonging’ to this new platform very strongly.

People inherently resist change. Moving from one type of social media to another takes time and commitment, and what if your friend/family don’t come with you?  It’s going to be a hard sell for Fairfax to convince many of the 10,703,160 Australian Facebook users to jump ship and use Connect Pink. The initial push to have every regional Fairfax paper covered in Connect Pink advertorials will probably result in an initial boost in membership, but only time will tell as to whether this will be a lasting social networking platform

Personally, I use Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Zite and Flipboard to keep up with my social news and events. Granted they aren’t all combined, although I do follow a few news-y Facebook pages, and as a result can cover most things inside my Facebook account.

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