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How many people do you know who don’t use Facebook or any other form of social media platform – Xing, Google+, Instagram…etc? I think you can count them on your fingertips, and I can’t discount parents and grandparents because my folks are on Facebook too!

Over the last few years, these platforms found a way tointegrate into our social scenes, and I find them to be BRILLIANT tools. A bit intrusiveat times, but mostly very useful. I recently found out through Facebook that oneof my favorite professors from my business program was visiting Dubai. That wasa reunion worth a million bucks. Thank you, Facebook. And I’m not the only onewho believes that. Daniel Kirkpatrick’s book about Facebook is littered withsuccess stories of how people have met or found each other after several years.

But this blog entry isn’t about general social media reunions.Instead I thought I’d discuss how companies are moving beyond setting up theseplatforms – more specifically, the monetization of social media and how to makemoney off the very popular platforms.

It is akin to the government first providing us with roads and then installing toll gates to monetize them. Another potential example could be of how some hotels provide Wi-Fi to differentiate but then charge for it at a later stage. As a frequent traveler I expect Wi-Fi to be a utility like water and electricity – included in the room rate.

Facebook (used as an example purely) introduced several new features since its IPO that seek to make money from the platform. I was both amused and disappointed when I found out about the Pay to Promote mechanism where corporate FB pages have to pay for a message to cover 100% of their existing fan base. Amused and disappointed because companies spend a lot of money advertising to build a fan base only to learn that they have to pay several times to reach out to the same fan base.

Games by Zynga and other developers have become a verypopular pastime (I find it quite irritating to see my newsfeed littered withplay requests from my friends) and they embody the monetization of the platform spirit. Initially the games start as free-to-play,but once addicted, players are asked to fork out real cash to get extra bonusesor advantages.

I recently read about Facebook testing a system where userspay $1 to message people not on their friends list – as a trial, users couldsend Mark Zuckerberg’s inbox a message for $100!!! But isn’t Facebook aboutmessaging YOUR Friends, i.e., the existing ones? Maybe there is a businesssense in messaging strangers?

This is similar to Linkedin’s Inmail service, which I profess that I use as a valuable business tool, but I wonder if Facebook will start charging to even see the profiles of people not yet in my friends list.Or ask users to pay to download high res pictures from your friend’s profile to print on a 4×6 inch photographic paper. The funniest thing would be if Facebook(or any other platform) started charging for every time you login. I bet that would be a natural dampener for anyone using office time to log on to check his/her FB status.

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