Medium has a Paywall: Is there Value? and Who Makes the Next Move?

Posted on March 29, 2017 by

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What’s the value on content when it’s free? (c) 2016 Amberwood Media

Most things on the internet are free nowadays. Information. Photos and Music (albiet with strings attached). Deals on airfare. Customers.

But what happens to our perception of value when we stop paying for things?

At a minimum, our expectations change. We get used to getting something for nothing. In the case of social media, seems we get almost everything for nothing. And that creates complications in the value chain.

Some providers have trouble making ends meet. Take Twitter. And Medium.

In fact, over at Medium last week, founder Ev Williams invited active members to a beta of their new paywall. For a $5 monthly subscription, you get enhanced features, most of which are behind the curtain labeled coming soon. Sure, there’s a spiffy new home page, but even that feels like a foot in the door.

What’s most important though is not what you get for your $5, but the fact that a leading social media company is willing to charge for a premium offering. That raises the stakes. Historically setting a price in social media was limited to either advertising, data or “how to” consulting. Now the best content has a modest price.

It’s a great experiment, and I think an important one. Is there enough value to change people’s perceptions?

Today, WEDS 3/29, at 1pm EDT, let’s discuss the implications:

  • Q1. Have paywalls been tried before? If so, with what results?
  • Q2. What risks is Medium facing, and what’s been the initial feedback?
  • Q3. Would Twitter or others benefit from a similar premium offering?
  • Q4. What happens next?

By the way, I gladly and quickly opted in for the $5 plan, confident that there are good things behind curtain number one. I posted about my decision to take a risk on Medium, using Medium, and also, ironically, wrote on Paywalls, Value and Medium over on my WordPress blog.

Both posts provide more specifics on what’s happening from a beta member’s perspective, if you’re interested in learning more on Medium’s progress.

So we chat on this today at 1pm ET.  Just add #smchat to your tweets at the appointed hour. We recommend a streaming app like TweetDeck. Our discussion is always lively. Hope you’ll join us.

Chris (aka @sourcepov)

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Posted in: Content