Think of a life before Facebook. Surprisingly hard, isn’t it? Thanks to the social media site, we can check in on our friends and family on a constant basis if we choose to, share events from our lives, invite people to weddings and christenings at a touch of a button, post pictures, videos and music tracks and generally let everyone in on your life and be part of theirs. Facebook promised us that’s ‘It’s free and always will be’ and we took the site at its word.
While we are a little astounded that Facebook has over billion people using the site on an active basis, we are shocked at the news that users will have to pay to make their posts more visible, in other words, to promote their posts.
The news isn’t surprising if you consider the almost disastrous IPO when the company debuted on NASDAQ in May. There are reasons for it, the least being that a move was premature and short term which scared off large investment groups. Another reason is that the demographic of Facebook users comprises young people who were quite happy to use the free site but baulked at the thought of paying money to own a small part of the company.
As result of the IPO and for other reasons, Facebook is looking for ways to monetize its platform. It shouldn’t be hard to do seeing how the site is the largest social networking site. As it is, the site is considered to be a great business and advertising tool by marketers and companies who pay Facebook to display their ads on the site. So, most of the revenue that runs the site comes from paid advertising.
Despite what Mark Zuckerberg claims that Facebook is not a business but a simple social network, the truth remains that the company needs to explore new avenues for monies. Hence the promotion charges.This is not a new move; the feature has been tested starting in New Zealand with plans to expand to over twenty countries. The idea is simple, users not companies pay to make sure that their posts get precedence.It could be a simple charge of $7and go up to a fee thousand dollars and users pay through their credit cards or PayPal.
Users have a highlight option that lets you, yes, highlight what you think is important. Together with promotion of posts, this option ensures that you’re on the top of the news feed. Imagine what it can do for your jumble sale, baseball match or dance recital event.
There are downsides of course. At the heart of the issues is the fact that Facebook has gone back on its word of keeping the site free for all time. But there have been other things on the site like virtual goods and gifts that have been paid for and have existed with no complaints. An alternate view could also be that users have the right to not choose to pay to promote. The problem then becomes about possibly being lost amidst all the highlighted and promoted posts that might flood the news feed.
There’s an issue with highlighted posts too. There could be a situation where we might be spammed by unnecessary advertisements and have no way to escape.
But this is a potential boon for advertisers and businesses, giving them more visibility. But imagine the dynamic of the site where the idea seems to be that if you have more money, you are more visible? Something for the company to think about.