Here’s why I would pay for social media.

Ian McIlwraith
Jun 16, 2018
Ian McIlwraith
Jun 16, 2018
I enjoy social media. Out of my 16 hours of screen time in the past week, an hour of that has been on Instagram. That’s considerably more than the 15 minutes I’ve spent in my email app, which costs $4/month. But all my social media is “free.”

Except it’s not. I pay for it with my data.

Let me prove my point. Go on Instagram, and see how many pictures you can see from people you follow without seeing a sponsored post. The shocker is that it won’t be more than six posts. That’s right, you can’t go more than six posts without seeing an ad.

For all that time on Instagram, it’d be nice not to see ads.

That brings me to my point here. If you could pay $4/month, or about $50 a year for a social media app, would you do it? I know I certainly would. That is to say, I would do it if my data wasn’t being used to show me ads in my feed.

It’s not that I don’t like my data being used, it’s that I don’t like seeing content that I didn’t request to see.
Instagram used to be my favorite app. Seeing high quality pictures from friends is something that I love! But I only open the app once or twice a day, and catching up on 40 posts and 6–10 ads isn’t my idea of relaxation. It becomes a chore.

That’s not what true social media should be.

Of course, that brings up the issue of advertising. As one who works in social media marketing, I understand that brands need to market to new audiences and the tools that Facebook provides are invaluable. But I would love to see a dedicated space for finding targeted content — like the Instagram discovery tab, but better.

Medium works on a very similar model. You can pay, but even if you don’t you won’t see ads — and I like that. I find myself coming to Medium to relax and learn something new at least once a day.

When it’s not a race to cheat the algorithm and get the most likes —or claps—social media becomes a lot more enjoyable.