The Conversation As Transaction

I recently read a post titled The social media expert, Who is he?  in which Jacob Morgan espoused on the question we all have been asking each other as of late and that is, just who is the social media expert? But an interesting thing happend while reading some of the responses to Jacob’s post, someone wrote that the conversation, or that the interaction on social networks, could end up being monetized or transactional.

I’m not sure how it went from talking about social media experts to dovetailing into monetizing social networks but it certainly gave me pause to ponder whether social networks could find that happy place and actually make money beyond relying on traffic and Ad dollars.

But herin I came up with some questions that not only do social media startups need to ask themselves, but even ourselves as users and readers and participators need to ask.

If you are the architect of a social media app or community, are your goals and aspirations purely altruisitc? Or do you want to make money? Your success does depend on the community, which of course is predicated on what? the quality of your apps? or the quality of your participants and the interaction of those individuals?

Its not the platform or is it?

The easier you make it for people to interact, then the better your chances are to succeed? Right? So then it is about the platform. See the catch-22? What comes first the people or the platform?  or rather what drives or determines the success? The quality of the platform of the passion of the people? Or is it sales and marketing and $30 million in funding?

So this made me think that could the conversation, could a conversation be monetized? Could there be a conversational transaction? Monetizing the conversation. Putting a value on the conversation above and beyond it’s intrinsic value? Is that possible? would we go for it?

Robin Carey brings up a great point in her response to the above blog post in which she says:

I think there is a world of hurt out there around the notion of “monetization,” or “transaction” and social media.  Personally, I think the hurt is misplaced.  Let’s face it, people do need to get paid for their intellectual endeavors, whether that is for designing a great app or moderating a productive conversation.  If you think of social media as an online, 24/7 conference, then if there is value to be had in that conference, then people are willing to pay for it. I would venture that relationships do have value, which can be monetized, but hopefully in a way that is acceptable to both parties (“transactions.”)  The big change with social media is that these transactions and monetizations (if that is a word) take place in a more transparent and inter-active fashion. 

So essentially what it may boil down to, is that social networks will no longer be free? Or perhaps you have to pay for your widgets, pay to communicate with your peers? Not likely. Which means this steers us right back to the value of the conversation, or the transactional value of the conversation. Yes it’s valuable but only between the people that it concerns. Above and beyond that it has zero value. And lets be honest, has anyone tried to attach value to a conversation? Beyond its personal value to you and I? I guess that means, for now, we’re back to relying on traffic and ad revenue. For now.

I guess the last question would be then: If Twitter started charging, would you use it?