Commentary

6 Ways Social-Media Sites Rob Users Blind

A recent study on The Statistics Portal has shown that the average American spends 11 hours per day on digital devices with over three hours spent on social media sites. In most cases, consumers are not being paid for their time.

Facebook has set a worldwide record making $2.24 billion in revenue per user in Q2/2014, and in the US and Canada, that number nearly tripled to $6.44. With nearly 1.3 billion users worldwide, how much has Facebook paid back their users? How much has each Facebook user made for making the social network wealthy?

1)  Where there is smoke, there is fire. While Google may not be considered a social-media network, Google+ is and is packaged under the Google brand. With pending cases like Hagens Berman filed against Google and other claims that Google is taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from AdSense accounts, how can consumers not be thinking twice about what Google actually pays their users?

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Since Google doesn't disclose the number of AdSense or AdWords users they have, consumers are not able to tell how much Google has taken from them. Google's net worth stands at approximately $350 billion dollars, you would think with that kind of money they could at least give consumers a legitimate way to monitor their use in comparison to what they're being paid (if any at all). 

2)   Don't let history repeat itself. It is obvious that time is money. As social sites like Twitter and LinkedIn are growing by the billions, their users are lagging behind. Television stars are making residuals for reruns. Musicians get paid when their music is played on the radio. Why shouldn't consumers get paid for spending their time on social media sites that give brands such worth?

It makes absolutely no sense for companies like Facebook and Google to be raking in billions and not giving anything back to their users when it's the users who are the television stars and the musicians here.

3)   Sites aren’t spreading the wealth. It is humorous to think users who spend their time and money to take some of the most beautiful photos in the world share them for free on social-media sites. Imagine where Instagram would be if there were no photos to be shared? Celebrities like Justin Beiber benefit from sharing their photos because consumers share them and unwittingly make him more money. How about a regular John Doe with that viral photo, story, or video? How much do they get paid? Sure, they might get their 15 minutes of fame, but does it pay for their Internet connection or iPhone?

Imagine a world where consumers are being paid for every "like" they click, every photo they share, and every story that goes viral. It would be a whole new world of wealth for the consumers worldwide.

4)   Pay-For-Play. If we take a closer look at today's social media growth statistics, users are growing by the second. For every like, click, link, search, post, tweet, etc. that consumers are doing, their data is being tracked for free, their privacy is taken, and such information is sold to third parties where someone else is making money from it.

That is no different than allowing a burglar to go into your home and start taking your valuables and selling them. Where would social media be if there were no users, no clicks, no likes, no links, no searches, no postings, no tweets? It wouldn't exist. Therefore, users and consumers are a valuable commodity that should be compensated for the things they do online to offset the expenses they're paying (time, mobile devices, Internet connections, etc.).

5)   Unclear Advertising Model - Companies from Facebook and Twitter, to Google tout their advertising models, but none offers detailed information on how such models are effective to the advertisers. An advertiser can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on social media platforms and they wouldn't know how effective each campaign has been in driving additional businesses to their site or whatever they're trying to advertise.

6)   Unclear PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Campaigns - Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter offer advertisers different forms of PPC, however, one wouldn’t know which users (real or fake) would click on your campaign. Facebook claims to have 1.5 billion users, however, of those users, 5.5% to 11.2% are fake accounts (fake), which means 82.5 million to 168,000,000 million users are fake.

If these fake users are the ones doing the "PPC" on your campaigns, then it would have been better to shred those advertising dollars. As of this article dated April 4, 2014 Twitter has about 4% of fake accounts (twitterfake).
4 comments about "6 Ways Social-Media Sites Rob Users Blind ".
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  1. Brooks Perry from RPA, April 2, 2015 at 2:30 p.m.

    They provide a free service to their users. No one is being forced to post on behalf of these brands. I don't really understand why users should feel robbed--if they aren't getting enough value, they can always stop posting.

  2. Steve Haar from Fanatically Digital, April 2, 2015 at 2:58 p.m.

    What a convoluted diatribe of disjointed logic that totally ignores non-monetary value provided by the social networks. Jenny’s company helps users monetize their attention, which is great if they don’t find inherent, non-monetary value in the social networks. However, if users are not willing to spend time on the networks because the inherent value returned is not worth the attention spent, no revenue-sharing model is going to make up for it.

    I’d rather have the social networks focus on enhancements for the user experience than try to facilitate rev share - especially since (at $6.44 / user for Q2 in US/CA based on numbers provided above) we’d get a whopping $2.15 / month.

  3. John Smith from Smith&Co., April 3, 2015 at 4:18 p.m.

    The idea of getting paid for time spent is a great idea. I'm sick and tired of the rich and celebrities using the poor and middle class to build their wealth.

  4. Debra Howard from Information for Inspiration, April 6, 2015 at 11:26 a.m.

    I think there's arguments on both sides, but there is something to be said for acknowledging how consumers make 3rd party richer.

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