Dawn’s Plan is about making money from your social media activity, whether or not you have a blog. And with some of this money, you could pay for content to enhance your own offerings (like running a comic strip on your feed) or just for your own enjoyment (like downloading songs or utility apps).
So nobody would have to put in money via a credit card or Paypal or whatever. The system itself would allow you to earn money and spend money for digital content. It would be its own economy. The “digital economy” that people have long anticipated but that has never materialized in any meaningful way, except for Apple and a few others.
Most people would make money via advertising. That is, they would choose ads that they would like to run on appropriate pages they create. And as their friends, family and followers engage with the ads, they would earn money.
And then some people would also make more money via other digital content they create, like for cartoons, apps, songs, poems, stories and so on.
But what about somebody like Karl Rove, who is now on Twitter? Somehow I can’t picture him picking out ads to run next to his tweets. And maybe you wouldn’t want to do that either.
If songs and apps are worth paying for (and iTunes prove they are), then under what conditions would somebody’s stream (like a FriendFeed or Twitter feed) be worth paying for?
Personally, I’d be willing to pay up to $.25 cents a month for the following feeds (again, out of the money I’m earning via the system, so it’s not coming out of my job’s pocket).
1. Someone who collects the best information there is about X subject on an ongoing basis.
2. An interesting inside look into a job or position I’m interested in. So if my goal in life is to become a cameraman in Hollywood, then I would pay a cameraman in Hollywood to tweet what he does during the day.
3. Instructional knowledge, like a blacksmith who can tweet (along with photos and maybe videos) how he makes knives.
4. Vicarious support for something I’m going through, like a woman could chronicle her weight loss progress and feed me tips and motivation.
5. The “first look” at art and entertainment by some favorite creators – like cartoonists, photographers, animators, etc. – with personal commentary, behind the scenes photos, etc.
6. Collections for charity – like celebrities Twittering their lives and giving the proceeds to save dolphins, or whatever.
If you had 5,000 followers and earned 80% of the $.25 each month, that’s $12,000 a year in earnings. Not bad.
How would that compare to making money off of advertising? Again, let’s say you have 5,000 followers. If you put out 3 posts a day (long, short, whatever) with three very targeted “offers and invitations” attached, and the average “engagement rate” to each one pays you $.05 (a conservative estimate) , and 2% of your readers engages with just one of the ads per post (since these ads would be relevant to their lives and most likely entertaining) , that would earn you $5,475 in one year.
Of course, when it comes to advertising, the things you write about and the people you attract would impact your earnings. Some people won’t pay attention to that and just naturally talk to their friends, family and co-workers, come what may. Others will see this as a business opportunity and put more thought into it.
The one thing that everybody will have to stick to if they want to be successful, is to only promote the products and services that they actually use and are willing to legitimately endorse. We each have an average of 150 brands we are loyal to that satisfy 80% of our daily needs. So most of the ads would be offers and invitations regarding these, as well as our favorite places to dine locally, etc.
So is this crass commercialism that will destroy our enjoyment of social media? Yeah, some people will think so, but I don’t. I believe most people will see this as a service. The truth of the matter is, if our purchasing is guided by people we trust , then we won’t waste so much of our money. And if we are in control of ad distribution, then advertisers will have to be more accountable to their customers. Money won’t be enough to distribute ads. Companies will also need goodwill. And good ads! No more sitting through poor, irritating commercials.
Besides, each person can override the “display the highest paying ad” system (similar to AdSense) and decide to distribute an ad no matter what the owner can afford. This ensures that small companies will have as much access to the market as giant corporations. Very cool.
My plan gives control of advertising to users, and also lets users own and control their social graph and be compensated for its use. If that’s “commercial,” then good. For two hundred thousand years social networks were also economic networks, and they should rightfully be so again. If everybody participates on an equal playing field, then there is nothing crass about it.
Personally, I think Facebook and others who throw ads in our faces that are irrelevant and intrusive (and on our own pages that we’ve created!) so that they can become billionaires is what’s crass.
We need a true, functioning digital economy so that people around the globe can earn money with little environmental impact, even those in poor countries with few natural resources. My plan allows the world to “drill, drill, drill” human talent, an infinite resource. It also ensures we can regrow the economy from the bottom up by injecting trust and confidence back into consumerism.
Would you rather work in a factory or create your own works? Would you rather buy something that will sit on a table collecting dust until its sent to a landfill someday, or would you rather buy something that entertains, enlightens and/instructs?
During this recession that could potentially move into a prolonged depression, do you want to help the individuals and companies you care about survive?
If you think keeping the status quo is worth destroying all these benefits, then I hope you’ll make your case in the comments.