The topic has come up again with two different, but similar blog posts from two known names in the social sphere. Hugh Briss of Social Identities fired the first salvo with his post on Saturday, Facebook Should Charge Page Owners A Fee And Set Our Posts Free. My friend, and sometimes mentor, Robert Caruso of Bundlepost chimed in with a slightly different take with Solution to Facebook’s EdgeRank, Revenue And Stock Price Issues. While similar in intent, the two ideas/articles do differ in several ways, so we suggest you read both to decide which, if either, idea appeals to you more.
We don’t intend to post our own take on the specific issue discussed by these two savvy gentlemen. We are taking a more broad look at the idea that something we use to market our business should remain free.
First, it’s ridiculous to state with any level of absolute that social business is a free endeavor. Time, man power, research, writing, monitoring – they all cost, even if the cost isn’t specifically in dollars and cents. We certainly wouldn’t expect to showcase our company in a magazine without shelling out the fee for ad space, now would we? But even that analogy is too simple. Even if we’re allowed to write for a publication in “trade” for space, it’s a one time, limited scope.
Social platforms afford us the opportunity for repeat exposure, which is the key to effective marketing. Currently some individuals feel the need to pay to advertise and/or promote posts in order to increase the number of eyes that “eyeball” the content and messages we share. Other individuals invest time into cross-platform connections and sharing in order to up that eyeball allotment. Either choice involves a payment, be it money or time and effort. Where else, in any type of marketing measure, can we get so much exposure without paying transaction fees?
Do you ever find it funny that we’ll pay for content curation and social monitoring apps and platforms, yet we get all up in arms when faced with the idea that we might, one day, have to pay for the BIG Daddys, the platforms which caused us to purchase the app or membership previously mentioned? Those Big Daddy’s are currently Twitter & Facebook. Linkedin has also long offered increased levels of connection for pay.
Why am I writing on this topic? First of all it’s interesting. It also gets people talking – and often disagreeing. But my main purpose here is to dispel a myth. We hear it all the time. It’s not about selling, it’s about the relationship, the connection. How do I reply to that? It’s both fact and fiction, fairy tale and fundamental.
Yes, the connections and the relationships matter. They matter quite a lot. However, those connections mean nothing if you can’t pay for your office space at the end of the month. Business allows us to “make a living”. Social business is no different. So, to say it’s only about relationships, never ROI, never sale, never dollars spent is ludicrous. Dollars exchanged are part of the business back and forth and are a necessity to your day to day ability to continue connecting.
Social business, no matter how you dance around it, is business. No, it isn’t broadcasting or hard sales…it’s a slower, softer, gentler approach. But without a trust fund, few of us can remain in business if it doesn’t turn a profit. While I don’t agree with too many blanket statements and/or absolutes, I do agree with some tried and true phrases. One of them is that sometimes you absolutely DO have to spend some money to make some money.
With that in mind I’ll happily say that I have no qualms about paying a small monthly fee to Facebook. Especially if it evens the playing field and ends ranking with an algorithm that makes no sense and seems to fluctuate with the changing of the temperature. The exposure on Facebook is still FANTASTIC and sometimes the best things come to those willing to pay.