“Why are you advertising for Amazon.com?”
The question came in the form of a Facebook comment Wednesday evening after the Big Scary Facebook Advertising Algorithm of Terror had apparently plucked a status I had posted on Black Friday raving about Amazon’s sale on 13-inch MacBook Pros. Of course, the sale had long since ended, but Facebook’s machinery noticed I was raving about a brand and, probably as part of an Amazon ad buy, my status was re-purposed and posted in my friend’s news feed.
“Certainly wasn’t my intention,” I responded. “It’s just another revenue-generating product from Facebook, and the reason why I’ll be deleting that post now.”
So, that’s what the Facebook user experience has become. User gets excited about a brand and writes an unsolicited post. Facebook swoops in and uses the post for advertising purposes. User, upset an honest testimonial gets re-purposed for commercial usage, deletes the original post in disgust.
No wonder the IPO sold so well.
Facebook isn’t the only offender, of course. Scroll down your Twitter feed and you’ll see promoted trends, promoted posts, promoted accounts, promoted hashtags, promoted searches. Sure, Twitter may have grown up and monetized. That’s great for everyone – except the users.
Even YouTube has become insufferable. Nearly every video clip includes pre-roll advertisement now. Worst is when a :30 second ad airs before a :15 video clip. That’s like airing a television show during the commercial breaks, and vice versa.
Instagram. Sweet, sweet Instagram. Stay ad-free, please, stay golden.
Look, social media is failing at advertising. Not in terms of profitability, but user experience. Social media advertising has proven extremely effective, time and time again. But that’s beside the point here. If people like me are honest and take just a moment to think about how much time they spend on social media – for better or worse – the following statement shouldn’t offend:
I’m willing to pay.
I would gladly pay $10 per month to access Facebook and Twitter if it means no more dismal advertising shenanigans. YouTube and Instagram? I would fork over $10 apiece for those, too. Founders, CEOs and venture capitalists of Silicon Valley – let me experience your networks as they were intended.
My South Dakota public school math tells that even if a percentage of Facebook fans decided the fee wasn’t worth it – for simplicity, let’s pretend half of the current one-billion users – Facebook would still generate a staggering $60 billion per year. Only 250 million users stay aboard? That’s still $30 billion annually. Maybe Facebook offers the service at a $1 per month and 75 percent of current users stay and pay. That’s a cool $9 billion per year. (Of course, this is ignoring taxation, international currencies, the need to hire, etc. But you catch my drift.)
Or, the titans of social media can stick to the script and continue to find ways to generate ad revenue. The user experience will continue to suffer. Users will grow tired of being treated like puppets. Slowly, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will see users disappear, tired of the overly commercial ecosystem and the sense everything they post could be flipped and reused to turn a profit, a share of which they will never receive.
It used to be when rumors of paid subscriptions circulated social media, users were furious. But can you honestly say you’re not intrigued by paid social media subscriptions for the sake of a better experience?