This post is a guest post – an open letter to Facebook – written by a good friend, Guy Azar (http://il.linkedin.com/in/guyazar). Guy has been working hard to build a business on top of Facebook, helping brands promote themselves on the platform.
Facebook significant changes to fan page platform, soon to take full effect on March 30, literally made the fan page as commercially effective as a personal profile. Many existing connection, engagement tools and techniques have become obsolete as a result. Most providers will take weeks to months to restore the usability of their products & services, and achieve partial effectiveness, at best, in continuing to promote their brands and customers.
This excludes, off course, the inner circle of providers such as Buddy media, Involver and others who were in on the hot details well in advance, just enough to be ready on time.
This is the classic move of the platform player: every once in a while making a few smart changes, which gradually snuff out revenues from the echo-system and further empowering platform revenues. Day by day this is causing fan page developers to clearly understand that we will never be able to build a big business on top of Facebook in the long run. Once our business is big enough, the platform will make changes, leaving us, the echo systems inhabitants, with just enough revenue to keep going.
One could say that this change shows how Facebook is facing the final countdown on earnings / IPO move. In fact, Facebook is probably desperate enough for short term profits that they are willing to make long term sacrifices on account of all the providers who leverage the platform. They are hurting the same echo system they were so smart to build in the first place, with their open APIs, available information, and overall pro-developers approach
Facebook knows that the true long term goals are beyond connecting a brand to a person. They wish to function as the main personal history and ID source for each and every one of us. This is their long term goal and its implications are beyond Economical. The vision they will only be realized by fiercely defending user privacy and provisioning commercial actions.
They are life changing, and the vast economical sides effects of this future are more than beneficial.
But the long path is jeweled with many financial challenges. Social media value is proven for corporations, mainly in Marketing: branding, accelerated buzz \ WOM generation, lead generation, customer relations and support, engagement, satisfaction, churn indicators, all decreasing CPA or increasing LTV in some way or another.
However, it seems as if the social media monetizable values are NOT clear for the social media platform itself.
Facebook latest move is, from my point of view, a BIG signal to developers. A big question mark. That question should be reflected back at Facebook – “What is our business model with brands?” and it’s derived from the more basic question mentioned above: “what function in people’s lives does Facebook fulfill?” and “what commercial aspects of people’s lives do we intend to facilitate?”. Facebook should moderate every commercial act over its platform, But they can contribute to the creation of the ethical, legal, foundations of it, shifting some responsibility back to the Brands & businesses. Once it is acknowledged culturally and legally that brands and businesses are responsible for their use of their user’s personal information.
So what will it be? Why can’t Facebook charge businesses for their commercial presence and activity? Facebook has the means to measure the connection, engagement and actions users perform with brands and businesses. With so many valid indicators, why can’t those indicators serve as the pricing and business model for brands and businesses on Facebook?
it makes sense – presence itself could to be billed for. With that model Facebook will be better aligned with it’s developres echo system, effective leveling the playfield by letting any developer share revenues with Facebook when their bring brands that engage with users on Facebook.
To summarize, as a fan page builder I am very disappointed with Facebook. letting the providers take the fall for their monetizing challenges. Instead they could come up with a vision in which presence, connection, and engagement indicators will function as billing meters. That could provide us the liberty to go back to the work with relevant customers who are interested in engaging users at a brand’s fan page, deliver a special customer experience, exclusive information, opportunities and offers, and share them with the brand and with fellow customers.
Another ex-fan page builder.