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By Bernard Wainaina
CEO,Profarms Consultants®

There are recent rumours circulating that Facebook will start charging its users as from November 1st,2014.

Since its inception,Facebook has had to contend with such rumours that are normally sketched to attract high traffic to certain sites in the internet platform to raise numbers required by advertisers as the minimum threshold to attract Ads in these sites.

This is an old trick that does not always fail to excite its over one billion users all over ther world drawing them into panic over the imminent loss of their free accounts and tonnes of digital data which may be lost if these accounts are deleted.

A lot of users store their digital photos in this monolithic social media platform as opposed to the old era of hardcopy photo albums.

While Facebook prominently advertises that its
service is “free and always will be” on its homepage, it hasn’t stopped these false rumours of a pay scheme from going viral on numerous occasions, most recently in
conjunction with the major profile redesign that the site announced earlier this month.

Given the ubiquity of these rumours, I thought it was worth exploring their origin — and why I can guarantee Facebook will never charge you to use its service.

The recent round of Facebook rumours suggest that the site will start charging for membership as a result of the upcoming new profiles and piling pressure from its new shareholders after going public last financial year.

The new Facebook does indeed feature some dramatic changes,like introduction of ‘Farmville’ online game, but you can rest assured that one of them isn’t that the site will start charging you.

Here’s why: For starters, it doesn’t need the money.

Facebook is estimated to be on track to pull in
around $14 billion in revenue in 2013, and has raised more than $20 billion in venture capital.

It’s also went public in 2012, a move that would bring in significantly more capital for the company and value it at between $80 billion and $100 billion.

More importantly, the company’s business model revolves around having as many users as possible.

Remaining free is paramount to doing that.
Facebook makes its money on highly targeted
advertising that’s based on the plethora of data that its members share on the site. Restricting users’ ability to use the site would actually be detrimental to that model.

Facebook didn’t even introduce its ad platform until 2007 — because the company wanted to focus on adding users as quickly as possible.

That’s not to say social networking sites haven’t
found success in charging members for some
services.

LinkedIn offers premium memberships
with features such as enhanced search, direct
messaging and seeing who has viewed your profile.

Some dating sites, like Match.com and eHarmony charge users to message each other.
Still, those services are appealing to a specific audience —Facebook’s goal is to connect everyone in the world.

That can’t be done if you need a credit card to use the service.

Why It Will Never Charge You

Of course, Facebook is in business to make money.

Beyond advertising, it has found ways to profit
directly from its users through Facebook Credits, a form of currency,more or less like BitCoin, that can be used on the site in social games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars.

In the future, we expect Facebook to find additional ways to monetize.

The company could grow its credit system to become a rival to PayPal.

We could also see Facebook extending its ad platform beyond the social network itself and onto the wider Web — in order to compete with Google’s AdSense,considering that it just acquired more users recently through buyout of Messenger Platform known as “Whatsapp”.

There’s also potential in ecommerce.

Although Facebook’s Deals product fell flat, an increasing number of merchants are starting to sell their wares directly on the social networking site.

Might Facebook one day provide its own tools for powering such activity? It’s certainly possible.

The one thing that all of these models have in
common is that they need a critical mass of users to be successful.

Facebook has that, and would never risk losing it by charging people for basic access to
the tools that make its multi-billion dollar business work.

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

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