Facebook remains valuable to many users—to the tune of $1,000

A recent study asked users how much money could make them walk away from the social media platform. The figure reveals its enduring pull—but how much would users pay to keep using it?

Some communicators might be willing to walk away from their social media account.

The daily hassle of scheduling and reposting content, mixed with sometimes unpleasant consumer interactions, can be exhausting. Plus, the immediacy of social media has drastically sped up the modern news cycle.

Doesn’t everyone want to just take a deep breath?

Despite social media’s rocky year in 2018 (Facebook’s data crisis, etc.), many consumers aren’t ready to leave their online platforms behind. Facebook, in particular, retains considerable value for many users.

New York magazine wrote:

The service, is, of course, free to use, barring a few lethargic attempts by the company to monetize its user base through things like paying for stickers to use in Facebook Messenger. But flip the question around: What would users need to be paid to not use the service?

That’s what four researchers attempted to quantify in a recent study. The results, published in PLOS One, show that the average Facebook user, contra the company’s bad public image, would demand a fair amount of cash to actually stop using Facebook.

The researchers used “second-price” auctions, in which participants place a bid — in this case, how much they would need to be paid to not use Facebook for a fixed amount of time — and winners are paid out the second-highest bid. (Second-price auctions are meant to prevent some of the tactical bidding that occurs in traditional auctions — there’s little point in bidding $500,000 to deactivate your Facebook to win, because you know you won’t actually get $500,000, but whatever the second-place bid was.) These auctions, it should be noted, weren’t hypothetical thought experiments — participants who won had to show they actually deactivated their Facebook account for an agreed-upon period, and then were paid actual money by researchers.

That might fly in the face of Facebook’s recent trouble with consumer trust. The company is still reeling from scandals over how the platform collects and uses customer data.

A series of crisis response efforts have done little to quell the backlash or kill the narrative, and new allegations keep coming to light. A recent report suggests that some Android apps send user information to Facebook whether you are a Facebook account holder or not.

Fox News reported:

A study by Privacy International analyzed the data that 34 Android apps, each with between 10 million and 500 million customers, transmit to Facebook.

“We found that at least 61 percent of apps we tested automatically transfer data to Facebook the moment a user opens the app,” it explained, in a statement. “This happens whether people have a Facebook account or not, or whether they are logged into Facebook or not.”

“We also found that some apps routinely send Facebook data that is incredibly detailed and sometimes sensitive,” Privacy International added.

Data is shared with the tech giant through Facebook’s Software Development Kit (SDK), according to the report.

“Typically, the data that is automatically transmitted first is events data that communicates to Facebook that the Facebook SDK has been initialized by transmitting data such as ‘App installed’ and ‘SDK Initialized’,” said Privacy International. “This data reveals the fact that a user is using a specific app, every single time that user opens an app.”

Is Facebook committed to changing the practices that drew criticism in 2018? CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the company’s past year in his annual Facebook post:

For 2018, my personal challenge has been to focus on addressing some of the most important issues facing our community…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, December 28, 2018

What about the other side of the coin, though? How much, if anything, would users pony up to keep using Facebook?

Social media observers forecast that Facebook usership will decline and that the platform might toy with paid memberships.

The Verge wrote:

Ken Goldsholl predicts a decline in usage in North America. Brandon Arvay predicts paid Facebook group memberships. I predict that the modest decline in users will make some of Facebook’s content moderation / foreign interference problems better in 2019, while introducing new worries about its long-term business. And I do not predict that 2019 is the year that Facebook stories take off.

Others predict Facebook will undergo a leadership change this year.

The Washington Post reported:

Facebook’s dumpster fire of a 2018 brought, by a conservative count, 21 major scandals. With consumer faith in the social network’s ability to protect our data dropping faster than the Times Square ball, Facebook needs to do something dramatic to signal it understands accountability. Since no one can challenge the throne of co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, it’s not hard to imagine one other big possibility: the departure of longtime chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Sandberg, who has already spent a decade at Facebook, is too talented an executive to stick around and continue to get blamed for Zuckerberg’s ongoing bungles. She could have the chief executive job at another major company that might help rebuild her image. (How about Disney? The contract for chief executive Bob Iger expires in 2019.) For Facebook, the upheaval might give it the opportunity to reboot its surveillance business model into other services and maybe even subscriptions. Why can’t we pay for Facebook instead of letting it spy on us for advertisers?

Asked about Sandberg earlier this year, Zuckerberg told CNN: “I hope that we work together for decades more to come.”

However, Facebook will remain a valuable part of many users’ lives—and that means marketers will probably stick around on the platform.

Black Enterprise wrote:

For the first time in social media history, Facebook is in the number three spot for social networks, just behind YouTube and Google. Facebook still has 1.47 billion people logging in daily with more than 70% in the United States. Therefore, Facebook is still a safe and lucrative place to put your marketing dollars.

[…]

Facebook is still a great place for your brand to get discovered. More people go to Facebook first for research and recommendations than any other social media outlet. Paid ads are a great way to get discovered, if you know your target demographics and use the audience selection features to ensure you are reaching your potential customers. It’s also cost effective with a great ROI.

How are you investing in social media in 2019, PR Daily readers?

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COMMENT

2 Responses to “Facebook remains valuable to many users—to the tune of $1,000”

    Janine Marsh says:

    It’s such a good question – why can’t we pay for Facebook instead of it spying on us to make advertising revenue. It’s such a simple way to change things. I pay a monthly fee to Google for more space on my GMail account – I have no issue with that and neither do millions. Some people will gripe about paying of course, but I’m sure the vast majority will comprehend that running a vast social media platform costs. As it stands, having revered Facebook as a social platform to communicate with readers of my blog, I still do love the interaction and community but I’m seeing less and less each time there’s a new roll out to force me to advertise, I’d be happy to pay a subscription but not to boost a post, to ensure those people who chose to follow me actually get to see me!

      Ted Kitterman says:

      It’s a tough one for everyone on Facebook, for sure. Facebook wants you to pay to boost. Are you turning to other outlets to get your message out?

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