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Eat24 versus Facebook: You get what you (don’t) pay for

broken heart By now you’ve probably heard about Eat24′s humorous but dead-on break-up letter to Facebook. “We’d love to say “It’s not you, it’s us” but it’s totally you. Not to be rude, but you aren’t the smart, funny social network we fell in love with several years back. You’ve changed. A lot.”

So true.

But to be fair, we’ve all changed. Back in the day, we had to pay to mail letters to potential customers, pay for ads in the telephone book and pay a kid to stick flyers on windshields. A lot of time, money and effort and still you’d only ever reach a small segment of the local population.

Now we reach out via the world wide web. We communicate with our potential customers on a daily basis via instruments they carry in their pocket and we pop-up between the messages of friends and family hoping that will get us noticed. It still takes time and effort but the cost is next to nothing compared to the old days. I hear you saying that social media does cost money to maintain because man hours equal dollars – I get it. But a Facebook update is free when you compare it to the cost of printing and mailing a brochure.

That being said, I understand Eat24′s frustration. They say Facebook isn’t treating them (or any of us) with respect.

All we do is give, and all you do is take. We give you text posts, delicious food photos, coupons, restaurant recommendations… and what do you do in return? You take them and you hide them from all our friends.

They do get points for creativity. But so does Facebook for their equally creative response. . . which has since been removed.

It all boils down to something we already knew, Facebook’s loyalty is to the individual users not companies. When the quantity of posts from one or the other changes, Facebook is forced to make a change to keep the status quo. Do I think Facebook is doing it to force brands to buy ads? No. Because if companies paid to boost even half of everything that happens in 24 hours on Facebook the situation would be much worse.

I can’t do the math but here’s my logic; right now, Facebook can control the amount of branded material that hits the average feed. But if 100 or 1,000 companies pay to push 3 to 5 posts a day, they’ll be obligated to push all of those messages to the feed. And not just the feeds of followers, but the feeds of targeted folks who might not care.

If that happens, they won’t be able to control the number of branded posts that hit the page because they have to honor the contract. Users will start to get annoyed by the number of ads and eventually, they’ll hit a deadend. It’s like selling ad space on a blog. You can put 4 ads in the sidebar, maybe rotate them with 4 additional options but then you’re maxed out. You can’t sell ad space to 500 people so you up the cost of the ad because it’s demand vs supply.

If brands start paying on a regular basis, Facebook is going to raise the rates and everyone is going to be unhappy again.

The bottom line is that as long as Facebook is seeing an increase in revenue, they have no reason to change their tune.

Understand, I’m not a fan of Facebook and I’m very aware of what it takes to grow a page now compared to a year ago. But did you think this gravy train would never end? Did you have a profile on MySpace?

Maybe it’s time we all face the Facebook truth; you get what you pay for. Or in this case, what you don’t. You can either set aside a portion of your advertising budget to boost posts or continue posting to an audience of 1.

Eat24 decided to make a show of it by removing their Facebook page. I suppose that’s preferable to leaving behind a cold page that hasn’t been updated in the past six months. Will it hurt their business? I doubt they’ll see a noticeable shift in referral traffic but what happens when new customers notice that they don’t have a Facebook page? Will that change their perception of the company?

What would you think if you looked up a hip, young company and found out they didn’t have a Facebook page? The answer to that question will help you decide if you should stay or you should go.

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