Facebook announced earlier that it will be changing its algorithm so that commercial messages from Facebook fan pages won’t appear as much. The changes will take effect in January 2015. While this announcement was spun in the predictable trope of ‘adding value’ to user experience, the move is in keeping with Facebook’s move towards greater profitability. Considering that its market capitalization exceeds some of the biggest and most well-known established American corporations like Disney, ebay, Caterpillar and Starbucks, Facebook is under a lot of pressure to justify that valuation. After all, Internet company or not, you can only live on market buzz and hyped growth projections for so long. This is why Facebook’s moves to monetize as much of its timeline as possible is such a great idea-for the short-term.
The big danger to a Facebook hellbent on monetizing its user experience
So what is the down side? Isn’t it a great idea that Facebook will try to milk as much commercial value from its over 1 billion active users? It’s not like Facebook has any rivals. Remember Myspace? Remember Friendster? Remember the once promising ello? They all don’t offer much competition nowadays. Facebook is it. The top dog of the social network and social media heap. And this is where the danger lies. Remember, Digg? It was at the top of the heap too-until Facebook and Reddit stole its thunder. We’re living in a social media market driven by increasingly fickle and demanding consumers.
Facebook’s moves to monetize more and more of its space might drive reliable content producers-Facebook fan page marketers and content curators-out of the picture by not giving them enough free traffic to make all their time and effort worthwhile. Moreover, an ad-heavy experience might also turn off an increasing number of users. Put together, these two factors can hobble Facebook’s growth, ad consumption, and usage numbers. Facebook should definitely tread lightly when it comes to user experience. It can only push so hard in one direction for too long until it starts experiencing negative results elsewhere.