[tweetmeme]I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about last week’s “inadvertent” unveiling of the new-style Facebook page (minus tabs). After being shocked, dismayed and annoyed at the removal of custom tabs, I calmed down and tried to figure out why Facebook would do this. I suppose it makes sense from an aesthetic point of view to make the two formats (pages and profiles) match each other. But I wonder if this decision wasn’t prompted by a more practical motive – money!
No one pays Facebook to set up a business page. And everyone who has been setting up custom tabs has done so either on their own, using the Static FBML app, or they are paying web developers to do the work for them. Facebook is not getting any revenues from those pages. Sure… when a business decides to advertise on Facebook – then the site collects money. But there are plenty of businesses who operate Facebook pages without spending a dime to advertise.
Maybe that’s why Facebook wants to eliminate the tabs. They’re not getting any financial benefit from it.
BUT… Facebook is treading dangerous waters here. As a small business owner myself, I would seriously consider pulling the plug on my Facebook page if those tabs are eliminated. While I may be small potatoes, I can’t see the big corporate giants being happy about the changes either. JC Penney just started selling clothes directly through their Facebook page! And what about NIKE and Pepsi? They have huge followings, and make excellent use of the custom tabs to attract and engage their followers.
I propose a solution that could make everyone happy – Facebook and business owners alike. It would mean the end of the free ride on Facebook, but not by much.
Monthly Subscription Fee for Facebook Page
Here’s the deal: Business owners would pay Facebook $5 a month for the privilege of having a page with tabs they could customize. That’s it. $5 a month, or 60 bucks a year for an advertising platform with a potential reach of 250 million people. It costs more than that for a yearly membership in the typical chamber of commerce.
I was unable to find out how many Facebook business pages are in existence right now, but considering that Facebook says that there are over 900 million objects people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages) – the company could conservatively earn tens of millions of dollars each year – and probably a heck of a lot more – if they instituted this policy. As it is, analysts say Facebook could be worth $200 billion by 2015.
I would prefer NOT to have pay anything to continue my presence on Facebook, but I understand from a business perspective why the free ride could come to an end at any time.
Of course, there may be another reason why Facebook wants to eliminate tabs from pages. Maybe the company wants to get back to its roots as being a strictly “social network” – not a business platform. Stranger things have happened! What do you think?