More often than not, the number one priority of any tech startup is finding a way to monetize. After all, why spend much of your time and resources building a business if it won't make you money? As a business owner and an entrepreneur, it's easy to understand why tech companies make such a strong push to monetize, but what if those efforts ultimately hurt your community or core user base?

Recently, we've seen three major social networks implement policy changes in an attempt to generate new revenue streams. However, all three efforts may have an overwhelmingly negative impact on user experience. In contrast, some companies are actively trying to avoid problems like this by making their users money to improve their experiences. Regardless, a relentless but possibly harmful drive to monetize on the part of major social media players is shown in the following three examples. It's important for these sites to consider their community before implementing such sweeping changes.

Facebook Kills Off "Like to Download" Feature

Although from the outside this might not look like an obvious attempt to monetize, Facebook's initiative to ban pages from using "like gates" will ultimately help the social giant rake in more advertising dollars after the policy kicks in on November 5th. But how does this work exactly? Before this policy changes, content creators, brands, and advertisers can still use their Facebook Fan Pages to offer customers incentives to like their page. Take a small online shoe store, for example. They can offer a coupon code to customers in return for a like on their page, which helps them grow their audience and reach more potential customers, essentially free of charge. But, Faceboook has made it clear that they no longer want brands to incentivize page likes, and will ultimately force brands, content creators, and advertisers to spend more money on Facebook ads if they want to reach a larger audience and gain more likes.

Facebook does this at their peril. As a platform that has played a fundamental role in helping small businesses, unknown musicians and artists as well as advertisers reach larger audiences and connect by offering free giveaways, this policy change will certainly impact these types of pages negatively and force them to spend more money on ads if they want to compete with major brands and advertisers. And as many have pointed out, Facebook ads have often proven to be far from effective.

SoundCloud Partners with Major Record Labels

Perhaps of the three examples I'm mentioning here, SoundCloud's push to monetize has received the most negative attention and the most backlash from their community. Recently, SoundCloud has made moves to partner with major record labels in an attempt to generate more money from the platform. The network says that these changes will not only allow them to monetize, but also prevent piracy, and provide a source of revenue for content creators and content owners.

The problem with SoundCloud's push to monetize, though, at least from many a longtime user's perspective, lies in that this social network was largely built on the backs of aspiring producers, bands, and DJs, who often used it to showcase their mixtapes, bootlegs, remixes, mashups, etc. But, in the eyes of major record labels, many of these recordings infringe upon various copyright laws, and as such, aren't allowed to be hosted on the site, per SoundCloud's Terms Of Use.

Up until recently, uploading illegal bootlegs or DJ mixes was relatively loosely monitored by the site, which utilized a third party screening algorithm to check for copyrighted material. But upon their recent agreements with a handful a major labels, SoundCloud copyright takedowns have become more frequent and less apologetic, leaving many of the platform's content creators feeling frustrated and alienated by a network that many of them helped build. Again, these sweeping policy changes in the pursuit to monetize have the company's community in shock in many cases, and have forced many people to look elsewhere for a better user experience.

YouTube Removes Independent Artist Content

Just like Facebook and SoundCloud, YouTube is in the process of making some huge policy changes that will dramatically affect "the little guy;" the small, independent artists, brands, and advertisers. The social video network is looking to become a subscription-based service, and as such, is signing deals with major record labels and content creators and taking down the work of independent artists. And what's even more interesting is the fact that the Google-owned video network isn't even offering the smaller artists and labels the same deals, making it increasingly difficult for them to compete with the major players.

As the number one music search engine and listening channel, especially among younger demographics, YouTube's new subscription-service is undeniably hurting its community of independent content creators, again, many of whom have been instrumental in helping build the platform.

Social media is meant to be just that--social--so it becomes disheartening when these companies start to purge the values that helped them become popular in the first place, in order to appease investors. Facebook and YouTube (Google) have a responsibility to those investors, but they wouldn't be what they are without the constant stream of content that's created and shared by their users. Clearly they've made the decision that the benefits of monetizing in these ways outweigh the costs of community outrage. You have to think, with so many content creators being left out in the cold as a result of these new policies, it wouldn't be surprising to see new, content-centric social media platforms pop up in the near future. After all, this is why users came to the bigger platforms in the first place.

What do you think?