The latest in Facebook rumor land is that the social media giant is going to start charging users to read news content.
Go ahead and Google "Facebook charging users" and see all the hits that come up.
Before you start telling members in your business networking group, or tweeting or posting this "breaking story", understand that the story is not entirely true.
Here is what Facebook, along with publishers, are exploring:
Facebook is planning - PLANNING - on testing - TESTING - a news service that may, after several free readings in a month, ask the reader to signup for a digital news subscription.
This planned testing revolves around Facebook's Journalism Project and Instant Articles service, using a paywall approach, that is already being used by news media companies.
Obstacles to full implementation are if or how revenue may be split between the social media company and publishers, and whether or not the news industry's peition to Congress for a limited anti-trust exemption allowing them to collectively negotiate with companies like Facebook and Google will be granted.
The other big obstacle will be, of course, market acceptance.
Regardless of Facebook's direction, the news industry has been and continues exploring recapturing lost revenue from print in the online space. So, even if Facebook scraps their plans for news subscriptions, the news industry will forge ahead. What this means is that even if you or I copy and paste an article's headline in Google, the publisher may still ask for a fee - "may" being the operative word.
Today, there are newspapers already charging for their online content, and the industry has yet to figure out how to make up for lost revenue since the internet and social media explosion.
The other part of this story is big media. Small media and "alternative media" will likely continue offering content for free consumption as they rely mostly on site advertisements.
Facebook and Google are, as of yet, not without competition. Google has an alternative to Facebook, Google+. Both Google and Facebook are targeted by WeMe. Microsoft's Bing search tool is also targeting Google. What this means is that one major misstep by any of these companies can change their fortune and their future.
So, keep on posting what you post, and read, ignore, like or "WOW" other's posts. You won't be forced to dish-out any of your hard-earned coin on Facebook to stay current.
If you want to glimpse into a possible other challenge for the news industry? Google "Facebook working on way to charge for reading news articles" Just read the snippets for each search hit. They all read the exactd same way. Think about that and ask yourself why that is. Is it a result of independent reporting, or republishing one source?
Sources: Fortune Magazine and Forbes
Finding customers is key for every business. Keeping new-found customers is the next key step. Let's talk about business and social media.
This is a PDF of a presentation we did earlier this year for a local networking group of business leaders in north-central Connecticut during an Enfield chapter meeting of the "Breakfast Club" networking group.
If you are interested in us recording a free webinar discussing this presentation, please let us know in the comments below.
Download or view the presentation by below.
How can a business use social media effectively? When it's used to relate and build relationships.
Growing up, I used to hang out after school at my family's small hardware store in Hartford CT, City Hardware. Then in college I worked at my family's small restaurant, Village Luncheonette in East Windsor CT, which was really an old-fashioned "soda bar" located inside an independent pharmacy.
In both businesses, we developed real relationships with customers. I watched as a customer became "Mr. Smith" or "Mrs. Jay", then "Fred" or "Nancy". Then I watched and listened as those customers became like friends, with families, jobs, joys and troubles, and I watched as those customers grew in number and frequency, which translated into the businesses growing and prospering.
Real conversations were held. Real stories were told. Real relationships were formed.
Both businesses have been long since sold. I think that was the tail-end of "main street businesses" in my state, giving way to high-volume, lower price businesses. That shift was, admittedly, good for customers, bringing in more goods and services for less cost.
Within this phase of convenience, selection and attractive pricing, we entered into a more impersonal relationship between people and businesses, making decisions based on pricing, clever marketing or whatever one-way sales and marketing pitches captivate our attention and desire, while businesses went for the best-priced, farthest reaching, and "loudest" ads and marketing tactics of the day.
However, today, businesses have a remarkable opportunity to reintroduce real relationship building with their customers (people) and prospects (people). This is especially true for smaller businesses. The vehicle for this "P2P" shift can be social media; "Social" being the key word.
Whatever your preferred social media channel, if used with the attitude found with old-school "main street" businesses of yesteryear, where you strike up an authentic conversation with someone, share stories, get to know each other, maybe even get to know them on a personal level, a business can engage in the kind of marketing that develops customer bonds that will withstand efforts from marketers engaged in adding the same-old plethora of content overload.
There will always be a place for "shout marketing", big print ads, commercials, billboards, radio ads, mailers, etc. However, social media is our opportunity to reengage with the public, to relate, to reduce the "shouting", to listen more than speaking.
What about the "Stop selling" part?
No. Selling is here to stay, but tell yourself to stop as a reminder to substitute it more and more with an approach and attitude of wanting to authentically relate to your customers, which means growing comfortable with a little vulnerability on your end and investing a little time in this activity.
Social media is not a billboard. Nor does it represent a captive audience who has to listen to whatever you put out there. Call it "information overload" or "content shock" or whatever, but people are learning to filter garbage out, even without the developing content filter technology. We are social creatures. We like to be listened to. We like relationships.
Be that business that caters to the human side of people, your customers, and you just may have an edge on your competitors stubbornly clinging to the idea that everyone has to listen to their constant sales pitches.
So, try on the attitude of "Stop selling and start relating". See where it goes and remember to listen, too! You just my be surprised with being rewarded for your listening with being listened to.
Musings, thoughts and perspectives from the Digital Marketing Partner team
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