Can Facebook Live up to the Hype or Will Facebook Pages Fall Flat?
The Social Network will open in theaters to much fanfare next week. This major motion picture features the founders and collegiate inception of Facebook. This movie release, in conjunction with a $30 billion Facebook valuation, has raised the Facebook publicity to a fevered pitch.
But the rich Wall Street valuations and Hollywood hype largely obscure the Facebook personal and business “Page” dichotomy and the unique challenges they pose. Facebook personal pages will be the center of the social media universe for the foreseeable future, but businesses will be slow to adopt Pages as a central strategy. While Facebook has also shown the willingness to get an increasing percentage of their 500 million registered users to actively engage in “Pages”, their reticence to actively address copyright and privacy concerns raises red flags.
Facebook Fanpages are dead, long live Facebook Pages! Facebook recently revamped the Fanpage portion of their site by renaming Fanpages simply Pages. Facebook removed all references to fans and instead featured a simple “Like” button. Ostensibly, asking people if they like a business, product, brand, or celebrity appeals to a larger audience than becoming a fan. Liking requires far less commitment than a fan and should increase consumer participation.
Facebook is a social networking platform and fewer privacy and copyright protections improve social networking. Their reliance on third parties and users to provide the content that fuels social networking requires Facebook to source external content. Facebook must also convince publishers to syndicate their content with them.
The Wall Street Journal conducted a survey of 100 online publishers, where “Greater than 90% are concerned about syndicating to Facebook due to inadequate content protection and revenue sharing protections.” Can Facebook strike the delicate balance between content usage needs with publisher content control and profit sharing rights to fuel continued growth?
Growing Facebook business Pages is a completely different challenge than personal pages. Edison Research reports that only 16% of social network users (sans Twitter) follow businesses and brands. And therein lies the crux of the Facebook challenge: Registered users visit Facebook for a social networking experience with their family and friends first, second, and third. While increasing clicks on the Like button are helpful, audience demographics will produce lower pay per click rates than search engines. And as long as Facebook maintains exclusive platform control and denies user privacy and rights, publishers and businesses will ignore or limit exposure to Pages.