Monday night I was climbing into bed fairly early and thinking about all of the posts and articles about Facebook and their need to drive revenue now that they are a publicly traded company. My thought process also veared to the recent firestorm and frustration surrounding Facebook’s ever-changing EdgeRank algorithm that is increasingly limiting personal and page content reach. As I continued to ponder these two connected issues I began to formulate an idea that I believe to be an effective solution to both.
An article I shared Monday from Computerworld outlines some of the changes social media is experiencing with the “pay” requirement that is creeping into the space and the frustrations that could damage the industry. Their article “Here comes the shameless social money grab” outlines why charging for social networking sites is wrong. Though not comprehensive, it does detail the huge potential backlash starting in the industry. This article was the catalyst that got me thinking on a solution.
Mark Zuckerberg, this is for you buddy. If only you would listen…
My three point Facebook plan involves core changes to EdgeRank implementation, how pages are monetized, as well as new search capabilities within Facebook. These changes are designed to improve user experience, reduce frustration, expand page capabilities and reach, as well as provide Facebook with substantial and sustainable revenue streams. Let’s jump in and review my suggested plan.
Part 1: Facebook Pages – According to Inside Facebok, there are approximately 42 million active pages on Facebook at this point. Given this valuable business use of Facebook’s network, I propose making pages a paid medium for brands at three levels. $3/mo for small, $10/mo for medium and $20/mo for large pages, depending on number of likes.
Pages represent the biggest opportunity for Facebook to enhance value to both business and consumer users of their platform and derive revenue from doing so. My proposed nominal fees for fanpages should also coincide with the removal of EdgeRank placement for these pages in users newsfeeds that have liked the page. Pages that do not subscribe to the paid platform keep EdgeRank in place, resulting in extremely limited reach to their audience.
There are numerous benefits to this aspect of my plan, but I will highlight just a few:
1) Reduction of useless and inactive pages on Facebook’s network
2) Enhanced REAL value to page owners
3) Likers get the content they have opted into without restrictions
4) Pages have more focus to attract real likes rather than fake numbers
5) Clear path to $1 Billion in annual revenue for Facebook, achieved very rapidly
6) Existing Facebook advertising revenue options still applicable, but more valuable to page owners
Part 1: EdgeRank – The EdgeRank algorithm that currently controls what content users see in their newsfeeds is a substantial barrier for Facebook’s average users experience within the platform. Part two of my plan would be to immediately remove the algorithm for personal profiles. Should a user wish to adjust their newsfeed content using existing lists they have created or purchase additional exposure, per Facebook’s recent test offering, these will remain as viable options.
Again, there are numerous benefits to removing EdgeRank for personal accounts, here are just a few:
1) User experience increases dramatically and immediately
2) Significantly more engagement and time on site will occur right away and result in more ad placement opportunities for Facebook, while not harming the personal user the way EdgeRank currently does.
Part 3: Search Enhancements – The next logical step in my plan is to modify Facebook search to mimic a Google-like web search platform for content within Facebook pages. The idea would be to allow users to search for posts that exist on all pages that is relevant to what they are looking for.
A few significant benefits:
1) Users find relevant content and new pages to like INSIDE Facebook easily
2) More users stay inside Facebook for new content discovery
3) Pages are forced to focus more on providing relevant content for their target audience
4) Facebook gets massive new Google Adwords-like revenue stream
5) Pages have additional path to target and grow likes
6) Facebook helps pages to grow from small to medium or medium to large, thus increasing revenue from Part 1 of my plan
I am not saying that I have an end all, be all solution here, but I do believe I have formulated a plan that delivers real increased value to page owners and users alike, while giving Facebook a real path to substantial revenues and ultimately a reflected stock price. As with regular and proper social media marketing, strategies based on delivering value always get the best results. My three part plan would result in value to all levels of users, pages Facebook executives and shareholders.
This is a slam dunk!