Buy Me CoffeeGeneral

Doing The Opposite of What You’re Supposed to

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Buy Me Coffee is about as far from the “Social Media playbook” as you can get.

If you were to create a platform for Social Media, you should do the following:

  • Make it free and subsidize it with advertising
  • Aggregate and sell user data to make more money for yourself and investors
  • Have as low barriers as possible for people to use the site
  • Use user-generated content to create a feed which then becomes habit-forming for your users

We know these are what you’re supposed to do. There are entire books written about platform businesses, digital marketing, and “seductive” (read: addictive) design, and we’ve read a good amount of them. Plenty of smart people also gave us “good advice” on how to succeed in the online social media space. Despite what we know we’re supposed to do, we attempted to do things differently at Buy Me Coffee because much of what you’re supposed to do is great for making money, but bad for the long term well being of users. At Buy Me Cofee, we have the following:

  • In order to “follow” someone, users donate a token amount to the user they want to follow. Buy Me Coffee makes something like $2 from the follow, instead of potentially multiples more by selling advertising.
    • We consider this “good” friction. There is too much distraction online today that prevents people from focusing on what’s truly important. The paywall at BMC makes it impossible to follow thousands of people that one doesn’t actually care a lot about. There are fewer random requests and inconsequential updates, and more of important and honest reflections and interactions.
  • BMC does not harvest user data, and nor do we create “insights” for advertisers or any other third parties.
    • With the rise of big data and digital marketing, it would be foolish to not take advantage of this valuable data opportunity. But is that the right thing to do? Would we feel good doing that to users? Quite simply, no. We would not feel good about the product we’ve created if it came to that. We hope this philosophy helps our users express themselves more openly again.
  • Buy Me Coffee creates hurdles instead of eliminating as many as possible.
    • There’s a design philosophy of “don’t make me think,” but at BMC we want users to think a lot. We want users to consider questions like the following:
      • “Do I really know what challenges my friend is facing?”
      • “What am I learning from my mistakes?”
      • “How do I feel about what’s going on in my life?”
      • “Do I have personal experiences that can help people I know?”
      • “Do I support this person enough to buy them coffee?” 
  • Public profile pages on BMC are more like Wiki pages, than a Facebook or Instagram feed. We want users to thoughtfully consider their lives and express themselves deeply and openly to people who care, instead of posting ephemeral links or thoughts with little significance.

We’ve been fielding some negative or trollish comments on Facebook about our concept. I guess this post is to express that we didn’t miss the obvious when developing this platform. We think the world has not necessarily been made better by entrepreneurs and engineers doing things the easy way. With Buy Me Coffee, we’re jumping through hoops just to do things in a more conscientious way. With a lot of luck and the support of our users, we have a chance!

(Image credit to Wieteke de Kogel)

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