As the initial public offering for Facebook draws ever closer, many companies that have used Facebook to advance their own agenda are attempting to veer away from the social service. As the company goes public, many anticipate changes in organization, service provision, and usage requirements. One of the concerns for many who have benefited from the popularity of Facebook is the potential for this service to institute user fees, especially for corporate accounts. As companies fear once the company becomes public it may levy fees, some in the corporate world are looking for solutions.
One insight is based on basic economics. If Facebook were to operate on a fee basis, would this open up the market for a free, user-friendly competitor? Sites like Google+ and Myspace have shown less than thrilling results, mostly due to the fact that they do not offer a distinction from sites like Facebook. They have not created the niche, and have suffered as a result. Something such as fees could bring back the appeal to these sites. But, as Facebook becomes more profit-driven as a publicly held company, one could expect to see changes occur.
If this change does happen, one could expect steep fees in order to get one’s message out. Would that benefit other underutilized sites? Who knows. We’d say yes, but if done strategically it might be a trend worth studying. For instance, if Facebook were to keep personal accounts free, but charge for pages and corporate accounts, a high level of competition could be achieved. The growth of personal Facebook pages wouldn’t be affected, but corporations and other organizations would be paying for the service. The benefit of doing so would be the same- and people would have no reason to turn to other social media outlets. Will these changes have an impact? Probably, to some degree.
It’s an interesting observation, and for now, only time will tell.
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