Monday, 3 October 2011

The true price of free

If you've visited Facebook or read any business or technology pages in the past couple of weeks you will be well aware that facebook has made one or two changes.

The changes have been discussed at length so we're not going to explore them in any great detail, but instead consider the furore that has engulfed the user community. A survey of 1300 users noted that 84% of the base didn't like the new changes. But so what.

As Adrian Short pointed out last week if you haven't paid for the service then you have no real say. Certainly you don't have rights. As a facebook user you're merely a tenant, you don't pay anything to be there so you need to expect things to change. If you want to control your web experience then you're going to need to be prepared to pay. facebook answers to its advertisers and those advertisers are the ones looking for more time online, better targeting, greater engagement and that is what the interface change is designed to deliver.

The radicalism of the change is something that brands have to be vigilant about. For years facebook has provided a free platform to develop your brand space on. If this is the decision you're making, you need to be prepared for the unexpected. You don't get anything for free and if there is a decision in the future to change things this could affect your wall, your apps or any tools you build in and fundamentally the brand experience you're building. With a long rumoured IPO in the near future, monetising the site has never been more important for facebook and one thing we can expect is more of these types of changes in the future. facebook has been a fantastic innovation for brands, but its best to remember facebook are doing it for facebook not for your brand.

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