Social Platforms Are The New Drug Dealers

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social platforms are drug dealers

The social platforms have us all figured out, folks. We’re doomed.

They stood on the shady corner of the internet and offered us a fix for free.

We took it, excited about this new drug; all the fun with none of the come down.

We got high on likes, engagement, and social authority. We felt dizzy with power.

And just when we thought we’d be able to pump vanity into our veins forever, we got smacked with the price.

It seems everyone is going to move to Facebook’s model of “pay-to-play” – and we, the users, are faced with a cost that may just be too great.

The Drug Dealer Method: Freemium

“FREE!” is not a new marketing tactic, though it may just be genius.

Here are all of the free offers I’ve gotten (off the top of my head):

  • Free sample
  • Free webinar
  • Free gift with purchase (love these at the makeup counter!)
  • Free shipping
  • Free trial

In fact, the free trial, or “freemium” model is used by many of the software companies that we use for managing content, or social media, or analytics.

It’s no different than drug dealers out there slinging bad things (other than the fact that drugs are illegal).

A drug dealer gives you the premium “good stuff” in the hopes that you’ll like it and want to do more of it.

He also knows that if you like it, you’ll run to your friends and tell them all about the magic sauce. And they’ll tell their friends. And so on.

Word of mouth really is a powerful marketing medium. You see that now, right?

I can’t recall the last time I saw a Facebook ad or TV commercial for (illegal) drugs. ;-)


The social platforms took the tried-and-true freemium model and ran with it, too.

social platforms are drug dealers

Filtered Feeds & Pay To Play

Twitter announced that they may be moving to a filtered feed, similar to Facebook’s model amid cries of outrage.

And while some diehard Twitter users are crying foul and planning an exit strategy, anyone with a keen sense for business should have seen this coming.

Oh, yes. I had an inkling something like this might happen around November 6th of last year (when Twitter set their IPO at $26).

But while power users are complaining about the possible changes, it’s interesting to note that one of the main complaints with users who leave Twitter is the inability to find the content they’re looking for.

So, investors are probably seeing dollar signs looking at a “fix” for the stream – it just depends which side of the coin you’re facing.

Like Facebook, Twitter now has a fiduciary responsibility to its investors.

And sadly, a few miffed tweets aren’t going to change that.

In fact, most businesses have a goal of being profitable.

And that means our precious “free” social sites probably have a plan to flip the switch at some point.

What’s Next For Social Platforms?

I think I’ve already spelled it out, but just in case: filtered feeds & pay to play.

With an algorithm deciding who sees what, our reach will dip tremendously and we will likely have to pay to get our content seen.

With the lifespan of a tweet being about 18 minutes, mathematically you’re already needing to put several tweets out per day just to get noticed.

How many of those will need a monetary boost?

Similar to Facebook, I’m sure the more you boost the more you get, and the less you boost the more you drown.

It’s another unending cycle of “feed the beast”!

And I’m nearly positive that other social platforms will follow suite.

How long can you continue to shell out the cashola for content to be seen?

I’m not telling you to leave Facebook (or Twitter).

But I AM telling you to start focusing some of that time and energy dogeared for social on your owned assets.

That’d be your email list, your website, your blog, and your original content.

Because trust me, when the final “freebie” falls and you need a fix, the only thing rock solid you’ll have to turn to are your own (owned) marketing efforts.

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below!


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Brooke B. Sellas is an award-winning Customer Marketing Strategist and the CEO & Founder of B Squared Media. Her book, Conversations That Connect has been recognized nationally and is required reading for a Customer Experience class at NSU. Brooke's influence in digital marketing is not just about her accomplishments but also about her unwavering commitment to elevating the industry standard of digital customer experience and customer marketing.
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Tags: algorithms, filtered feeds, Paid Media, pay to play
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