Facebook: The last decade, we’ve put an enormous amount of money and effort into it. We made it big together. And we made it into a worldwide success. It’s a killer medium that is unmatched when it comes down to its target audience and options. We should definitely be proud of it. And we should be allowed to call it our digital property. The only problem is, we forgot to monetize it.
All across the world, organizations have invested billions of dollars to gain followers on social media and build their audiences. It’s a huge success. So much content has been posted and so many followers were recruited, that we are now faced with an abundance of content. As a result, it is no longer self-evident to reach your followers when you publish content.
It is no longer self-evident you reach your followers when publishing content. And that is exactly how Facebook makes money.
And that’s going well for Facebook. In fact, that is exactly how it is making money. It defines their businessmodel: selling expensive advertising solutions. And we’re using it like crazy because there’s honestly not much alternative (until now :-)
The irony is that we are paying for what we have created ourselves — not Facebook. At first, social media was not much more than abandoned market places, empty casings or DIY media that required us to provide the content and the audience. And we did.
Together — both companies and individuals — we made Facebook big and offered it the opportunity of developing itself into traditional mass media that requires you to advertise to reach your target audience. We provided the fuel for the engine that is now running at full speed. And not only that, we provided enormous amounts of data and target audience info. Info that Facebook is now using for their own benefit by offering advertising targeting options that other traditional media can only dream off.
Our digital property is being exploited
Thanks to advertising sales, Facebook earned a staggering 27 billion dollars in 2016, resulting in a profit of $12.4 billion USD. This raises the question whether it is fair that they earns so much money with (read: have such a high margin thanks to) the content, data and audience that we provided.
Take one of the world’s most famous brands, Coca-Cola. Over the years, 100.545.507 people started following Coca-Cola on Facebook (08/23/’17). The brand didn’t achieve those figures without making any effort. To do so, you need brand awareness, value and fame, quality content, interaction with the audience, costly campaigns and blood, sweat & tears. While Facebook sells those followers as target audience to dozens of advertisers, Coca-Cola has to pay in order to reach them.
“In our blind admiration, we forget that it was a team effort. That the followers that we recruited with our content, and the data that they leave behind, are our digital properties as well”
We think that Facebook and all those other social networks are amazing, and we can’t get enough of praising their founders. But in our blind admiration, we forget that it was a team effort. That the followers that we recruited with our content, and that the data that they leave behind, are actually our digital properties as well.
We forgot to demand our fair share, and it is definitely too late to do so. Facebook rules the world, and we willingly pay billions of dollars to reach the audiences we’ve built, because in the end it somehow pays off.
It would be fair if we somehow monetize our digtial property at a fraction of the cost, wouldn’t it?
How to monetize your digital property
What we can do is ask our followers to share our content instead of purchasing more ads. There’s a huge chance that a large number of people is willing to do so as an ambassador of your brand, whether or not in exchange for a reward.
What we can do is ask our followers to share our content instead of purchasing more ads.
Imagine that Coca Cola asks all of its 100.545.508 followers to become their ambassador. To share Coca Cola’s Facebook posts for a certain time, in exchange for exclusive content, rewards or fame. And that these ambassadors can do so with little to no effort. That they can share those posts automatically and only have to intervene if they don’t want to share a certain posts. And imagine that 1% of all of their followers accepts the offer.
That means that more than one million people would be sharing their content by default. And since a Facebook user in the United States has 155 friends on average, we are talking about a potential reach of 155.000.000 users per post. That is more than its total amount of followers.
Now take into consideration that:
- a post of a Facebook friend has a higher chance of appearing on your timeline than the post of a company that you’re following.
- the amount of re-shares isn’t even included in this reach.
- word-of-mouth has the highest influence in terms of buying decisions according to 74% of consumers (source: Ogilvy/Google/TNS).
Even it was only 0.1% percent of Coca Cola’s followers that answered the call, they would still have something that is more powerful and profitable than advertising. Something that involves your ambassadors in marketing activities and rewards them instead of Facebook (which you already rewarded with your audience, content and data).
How we actually did it — and so can you
The problem is, asking your followers to share your content is difficult. It takes a lot of energy and effort to get this done. You probably know this from your own experience, when you ask people in your organization to help share.
Asking people to share your content is hard and not scalable. Facebook wins again. Until now…
You need to distribute your content to those people, ask them to share, follow up if they don’t, check whether they actually shared, if not, ask them again. etc. Besides, even if they shared, you don’t have any control over when it got shared or whether the message is consistent. This is not scalable at all and that’s why it hardly gets done. Facebook wins again.
Ideally, you’d want to ask people to opt-in their social media accounts, so that you can post directly and automatically on their accounts without having to ask each time. But at the same time you would want those people to keep full control, meaning they can review or reject any post, and easily opt-out. Plus you could reward people for sharing. That would be the ideal way to monetize your digital property.
So we build PostSpeaker, a social sharing tool that does exactly this. It makes asking people to share your content, and sharing content, extremely scalable. And by doing so it helps to monetize your digital property that you’ve build with money, sweat and tears.
If this alternative appeals to you, then you should definitely check it out. Let’s not let Facebook be the only one monetizing our digital property!