The development of the Internet brought us several online platforms on which we can exchange information, share pictures, listen to music, watch videos and so on. The use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud is incorporated in our daily lives and nowadays we can’t image living without these services. One of the most interesting aspects of our online behavior is the fact that people share and contribute information for free on a massive scale. So what explains this behavior that we observe in the online environment? Although the urge to earn some money, a rather intrinsic motivation, can definitely play a role in people’s considerations to share or contribute to information online, extrinsic motivations such positive emotions, social rewards and connections, seem to be strong motivators which explain people’s online behavior (Mingarelli, 2013).
So how can we reward the millions of people who share and contribute information which we can use for our own benefit? Thanks to Facebook, we are able to ‘like’ others’ shares and contributions, but the familiar like button provides a more ‘social reward’ to the contributors or creators of certain information. Is this type of social reward enough for creators to keep sharing their information and contributions online for free? According to Flattr, a service enabling micro donations, this is not the case. This European initiative beliefs that monetary support is the way to enable more content to be free and open. Flattring creators means that a supporter gives both a micro donation and social support, which provides a means of motivation which hopefully leads to more and better content to use and benefit from. Furthermore, Flattr argues that paying for content gives a warm and fuzzy feeling and moreover, the feeling of being part of the creation of great content.
So how does Flattring work? The money supporters transfer to their Flattr account can be used to ‘flattr’ creators’ work online. More specifically, this service allows to set a monthly budget which will be divided over the amount of flattrs supporters made in that month. At this moment nine platforms, under which Youtube, Instagram, Flickr, WordPress and Soundcloud are connected to Flattr. However creators must add the Flattr button to their content in order to receive the monetary support. Of course not only creators benefit from the monetary support provided to them, also the Flattr service benefits from your Flattrs. Creators receive ninety percent of the money provided by supporters to creators, indicating that 10% goes to Flattr.
Although micro payments systems have failed in the past due to the mental costs involved which seem to hold people back from donating or buying, Flattr might become the easy-to-use mechanism convincing consumers to support content online in one-click. Overall, Flattr seems to have the ingredients to become successful, but in order to achieve real success one crucial ingredient has to be achieved: massive online adoption.
Mingarelli, G. 2013. Are Love, Money and Glory Building Blocks to a Better World? Visited on May 8th 2013 and retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/giovanna-mingarelli/are-love-money-and-glory-_b_3874439.html