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    Get paid for posts? Social networking’s new twist

    Gerry Kelly, founder of clothing brand Sonas Denim, helped test Bubblews social network. He has earned about $100 from Bubblews since he began using a test version in January. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
    (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
    Gerry Kelly, founder of clothing brand Sonas Denim, helped test Bubblews social network. He has earned about $100 from Bubblews since he began using a test version in January. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

    SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook and most other social networks are built on the premise that just about everything should be shared — except the money those posts produce.

    At least two services are trying to change that. Bubblews, a social network that came out of out of an extended test phase last week, pays users for posts that attract traffic and advertisers. Another company, Bonzo Me, has been doing something similar since early July.

    ‘‘I just feel like everyone on social networks has been taken advantage of for long enough,’’ says Michael Nusbaum, a New Jersey surgeon who created Bonzo Me. ‘‘Facebook has been making a ton of money, and the people providing the content aren’t getting anything.’’


    Bonzo Me is paying its users up to 80 percent of its ad revenue for the most popular posts.

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    Bubblews’ compensation formula is more complex. It’s based on the number of times that each post is clicked on or provokes some other kind of networking activity. To start, the payments are expected to translate into just a penny per view, comment, or like. Bubblews plans to pay its users in $50 increments, meaning it could take a while for most users to qualify for their first paycheck unless they post material that goes viral.

    ‘‘No one should come to our site in anticipation of being able to quit their day job,’’ Bubblews chief executive Arvind Dixit says. ‘‘But we are trying to be fair with our users. Social networks don’t have to be places where you feel like you’re being exploited.’’

    Bubblews is also trying to make its service worthwhile for users by encouraging deeper, thoughtful posts rather than musings on trifling subjects. To do that, it requires each post to span at least 400 characters.

    Tech analyst Rob Enderle thinks Bubblews, or something like it, eventually will catch on.


    ‘‘I don’t think this free-content model is sustainable,’’ Enderle says. ‘‘You can’t sustain the quality of the product if you aren’t paying people for the content that they are creating. And you can’t pay your bills if all you are getting are ‘likes.’’’

    Gerry Kelly of San Francisco has already earned nearly $100 from Bubblews since he began using a test version in January. His Bubblews feed serves as a journal on the lessons he has learned in life, as well as a forum for his clothing brand, Sonas Denim.

    Though Facebook is by far the largest social network, it has a history of irking users. People complained when Facebook changed privacy settings in ways that exposed posts to a wider audience. They have criticized Facebook for circulating ads containing endorsements from users who did not authorize the marketing messages.

    More recently, people were upset about a 2012 experiment in which Facebook manipulated the accounts of about 700,000 users to analyze how their moods were affected by the emotional tenor of the posts. Facebook apologized.

    Kelly still regularly posts on Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family, but says he is more leery of the service.


    ‘‘They just take all your information and make all the money for themselves. It’s insane,’’ Kelly says.

    Despite the occasional uproar, Facebook Inc. has been thriving while feeding off the free content of its nearly 1.3 billion users. The Menlo Park, Calif., company now has a market value of $175 billion, and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg ranks among the world’s wealthiest people with a fortune of about $30 billion, based on a Forbes magazine estimate.

    Advertisers are pouring more money into social networks because that is where people are spending more time. Facebook’s share of the $140 billion worldwide market for digital ads this year is expected to climb to nearly 8 percent, or $11 billion, up from a market share of about 6 percent, or $7 billion last year, according to the research firm eMarketer.

    Bubblews wants to make money, too, but it also wants to ensure that everyone using it gets at least a small slice of the advertising pie.