A study by the Center for the Digital Future at USC has done us a great service. Polling a selection of 1981 internet users, the study found that 49% use micro-blogging services such as Twitter. And 0% would be willing to pay for it.
No, I didn’t forget a digit. Zero percent, as in nobody, would be cool with paying for social networking. Considering the average Joe’s Twitter account has five tweets four months apart, most of which are about how stupid Twitter is, I think I’m feeling that.
‚ÄúSuch an extreme finding that produced a zero response underscores the difficulty of getting Internet users to pay for anything that they already receive for free,” said Jeffrey Cole, the director of the Center for the Digital Future. Well, yeah, Jeff. I hope that doesn’t come as shocking to you. If I’m used to getting the free bread before the main course, you can’t honestly expect me to ever be down with paying for it. It’s just bread, after all. I can get full elsewhere.
The survey also showed that 55% of users agreed or strongly agreed that they would “prefer having free access to online content that has advertising accompanying it rather than having to pay for the content.” Maybe if you toasted little ads into the bread, then.
You know what Twitter should do if it ever finds itself interested in a payment structure? Start charging whenever you go over 140 characters. That would be great. Or maybe it would just cause the problem of txt spk to grow ever-worse. Actually yeah, no, scratch that. Free Twitter or bust.