Just read an interesting post in ReadWrite about Mark Cuban deciding to abandon Facebook because of the algorithm change forcing corporations to pay exorbitant fees to get play on the social network. Frankly, I think he's wrong to do it, but Facebook is finally doing something right.
The great thing about Facebook, as opposed to Google, was that companies could get a lot of good exposure if they could get their customers to talk about what they thought about products.That's why I was an initial FB booster rather than press releases on Google as a means to reach an audience. It was true public relations, not companies gaming the SEO of Google for a higher page rank.
In the beginning, it worked well. Then companies got lazy, and so did Facebook, by creating corporate pages and finding ways to game the community attraction, just like Google allowed. I was really getting sick of having to completely reorder my FB feed to keep the crappy fake Facebookers from filling it with corporate spam. Now Facebook is charging corporations, like all those owned by Mark Cuban, for the right to spam the community and charging up the wazoo for it.
Well Cuban doesn't like the ROI (in other words he doesn't want to pay for anything) and he's switching to MySpace, Tumblr and Twitter to reach his fan base. That very well may work for the penurious Cuban... for a while. Pretty soon, though, networks will also have to figure out how to monetize all this spam traffic.
What Cuban, GM and all the other companies bitching about Facebook advertising fail to comprehend is that one happy, vocal customer is more valuable than a post spammed out to 10,000 who once pressed a like button. Especially on Facebook. Sociology studies have shown over the years that the average person exchanges opinions with 6 people every day in the natural world. So in a company of 100 people, 600 others will receive information about that company in a day. Social media changes that, however because the average social media user actively exchanges opinions with 165 people every day, who exchange those same opinions with another 165 people each that same day. So an average fan will reach more than 27,000 people every day... for free. The trick is you have to give them something they might actually want to share and it has to be more than, "Hey! buy my crap!"
That's the lesson Ford learned over GM. GM put ads on Facebook that said "Buy our cars," and the effort failed horribly. Ford put up ads that said "Here's how to take care of your car," which directed them to a site that gave them valuable information, which included, "While you're at it, have you considered a new car?" Facebook advertising worked for Ford. Didn't work for GM. Do you see why?
Based on what I've seen coming out of Cuban's companies, he hasn't figured that out yet, which is why he doesn't see the value in Facebook.
But let's move from that to why Facebook is doing the right thing. I once had a friend (who I met on Facebook) say, wryly, "Oh no! 10 million people are upset at Facebook's latest change and are threatening to leave. What will the other 990 million of us do without them?" Facebook has maintained dominance because it has gathered more users than any other online service faster than any other. A very big deal was made about them passing the 1 billionth account. But what they are doing now could very well cut that number by half very fast. And they are doing it intentionally.
Social media has never been about reaching the most people. It has always been about reaching the right people. For the past couple of years, Facebook has become bloated with a lot of "non-people," which means they are not right. Therefore, they need to go away or pay for the privilege of being in the worldwide community. That means Facebook has decided to do the right thing and cull that community. We may very well see Facebook drop to 500 million users in the next two years, which everyone will consider to be the death of Facebook. Really. 500 million users is a failure.
No. It is not. It is the right thing.