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7 Reasons Twitter Must Remain Subscription Free

Posted on April 1, 2011 in Top Posts | 0 comments

No doubt many of you saw the news yesterday morning that as of September this year Twitter is no longer going to be a free service. Obviously Twitter isn’t the most profitable of business models and, understandably, they have been working hard to rectify this.  They’ve been using promoted tweets for the last year or so, but apparently they aren’t generating a sufficient revenue stream.  So now, in a complete volte-face, they have decided that making the service subscription based is the way forward for them.  It’s a shame because, not only do we find it an invaluable communication tool for 7 Reasons, it’s also great fun. We’ve both met some great people and both done things that we wouldn’t have done otherwise. Like create 7 Reasons. Quite frankly, the thought of not having Twitter around fills us with dread. So, in a plea to the powers that be, here are seven reasons to keep Twitter subscription free. If you agree please share this post. You never know what might happen.

Twitter's Fail Whale as a dollar bill


1.  Revenue.  There are better ways to raise revenue.  No one likes to pay a subscription; look at how many people subscribe to Sky in the UK compared to the number that watch ITV.  This tells us that advertising is a more palatable option than a paid for service.  We have contextual adverts here on this website and – apart from notable exceptions, such as Marks and Spencer advertising alongside 7 Reasons That I Hate The M&S Dine In For £10 Deal and Orange advertising on the post 7 Reasons That Life Would Be So Much Better in Black and White – this works well.  Would any Twitter user really mind carefully chosen contextual adverts on their Twitter page (obviously not ads for hair loss products, incontinence pads or Greggs the bakers) instead of paying an annual subscription?  I think not.

2. Relationships. I met the girl I am going to marry on Twitter. In a roundabout way. I wasn’t actually being myself, which means she’s actually marrying a spoofed professional sportsman. Luckily that’s pretty much what I am anyway. There are people out there who, perish the thought, actually pretend to be themselves. And there are people out there who are now married because of Twitter. Or reunited with friends and family because of Twitter. Or working together because of Twitter. Or sharing a cell with Big Bear because of Twitter. That just seems like an awful lot of great stuff that is going to be lost come September.

3.  Fail Whale. When Twitter reverts to a subscription based service they hope to keep 25% of their users. I think it’ll be more like 2.5% but either way the Fail Whale will no longer be part of people’s lives. In the two years I have been using the network the Fail Whale has become more than a sign of overload. He has become a friend. A reassuring sight in an uncertain world. A reminder that you can’t always have what you want when you want it. In this respect the Fail Whale is a great philosopher. Communicating with us in a language the modern generation can understand. Who are we going to listen to when we can’t turn to the Fail Whale? The only Fail Whale I can think of is James Corden. And philosophy is not his strong point. Even more depressingly, neither is comedy.

4.  Organisation.  You have to be organised to maintain a regular subscription to something (unless you’re so disorganised that you subscribe once and remain subscribed for eternity), and organised people aren’t necessarily the most interesting people.  But that’s who you’ll find tweeting in the future.  Jack Kerouac, Keith Richards, Dionysus, Dorothy Parker and Queen Ranavalona the 1st of Madagascar are all fascinating characters that would be monumentally interesting tweeters, yet would find it too much hassle to maintain a regular subscription to a social networking service, even if they weren’t drunk, high, mythical or dead (or in the case of Keith Richards, possibly all of those things).   This would leave Twitter in the hands of dull people, for whom renewing their subscription to Twitter would quite probably be an annual highlight.  It would become a showcase for tweets by Michael Vaughan, His Excellency Baron Sir Lord Sir Alan Sugar of Sir Hackney Sir, the third Nolan Sister and Oprah fucking Winfrey.  Subscription would make Twitter a duller place which would, paradoxically, make people less likely to subscribe.

5.  Access The Inaccessible. Twitter is a great outlet if you want to hear the thoughts of people/things who you otherwise couldn’t. Bronx Zoo Snakes for example. Or dead dictators. Adolf Hitler has his own twitter account. Well, actually, he has about twenty, but I think nineteen of them are fakes. The real Hitler is worth a follow just so you can get a better understanding of how his mind works. If you don’t follow Hitler (and I would never encourage it) I can inform you that he’s still an angry midget. He still has issues. A recent update stated, “I’m sick of bonsai trees being so small.” When we have to pay for Twitter, answers to GCSE history questions just won’t be as informative/entertaining.

6.  Expense. Unfortunately, whether you subscribe to the service or not, it’s still going to cost you. Remember the old days when it cost 12p to send an SMS or 28p to send a letter? Assuming you leave the service, it’s going to be those days all over again, only this time we’ll have to alert all of our followers every time we do something. So for us that’s 2000 texts or postcards we’ll have to send out every time we publish a new 7 Reasons post. And what if Bob replies with a text or a postcard? If we decide to reply to Bob we’ll also have to send a text or postcard to everyone who follows both 7 Reasons and Bob. What a nightmare this is going to be. Looking on the bright side at least I have free texts. Looking on the dark side stamps now cost 41p.

7.  Subscription Misses The Point Of Twitter.  Or, if not the point of Twitter, it misses what we all love about it.  The freedom.  It’s an egalitarian melting pot where views, thoughts, ideas, opinions and links to Failblog can be disseminated amongst users without some sort of hierarchical class distinction getting in the way.   If it’s made a subscription service then – especially in the current harsh economic climate – many users will be excluded for no fault of their own.  Should being unemployed, poor, a single-parent or a resident of the Republic of Ireland really be grounds for exclusion from social media?  No, it shouldn’t.  It’s vital that Twitter remains subscription free.  Please retweet this piece if you agree.

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