Engage social networks' members

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Engage social networks' members
Engage social networks' members

In February, Facebook asserted ownership over anything its members posted — the unspoken message being that to access their content, users would need to stay on Facebook, where Facebook can monetize them. Not surprisingly, this move was not well received by users. To its credit, Facebook immediately pulled the plug on this aggressive policy.

Given several high-profile clashes between Facebook and its users, some believe that it should be a fast-follower rather than a leader in monetizing social networks — but can we blame it for trying? It has about 150 million users and adds 450,000 daily. Who wouldn't want to monetize all those eyeballs?

Eric Auchard wrote in his Reuters blog, "Facebook encourages advertising that seeks to trigger social interaction between members, in effect using networks of friends for viral marketing... The snag is that rewiring how the site works to make such ads more effective has actually alienated users. Many regard attempts to make money by passing on their information... as positively creepy."

However, Auchard gets it wrong. Facebook was trying to monetize information, something Google and many others have been doing for years. Facebook does promote social advertising and encourages engagement. That's good — when advertising is static or inauthentic, consumers reject it. Engagement is the best way to be accepted on social networks.

People in social environments are all about engagement and expressing themselves. The need to be social is at our core, which is why social networks have become so popular, and why Facebook is trying so hard to get it right.

The push to monetize social networks comes not just from business necessity, but from the personal endorsement opportunity this medium presents. According to a Bridge Ratings 2007 survey, personal endorsement is the No. 1 purchase influencer — more than a New York Times cover story or any paid content.

Monetizing social networks has been a touchy subject for the last few years, but it really doesn't have to be. One way to avoid the controversy is to make sure your brand is tapping into the social networking content culture. When you raise advertising content to the level where consumers voluntarily engage, you are on the path to personal endorsement.


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