Are brands really benefiting from Facebook paid messaging model?

Facebook has evolved as a dynamic entity and now the social networking giant is looking out for newer ways to generate revenue. Since its May 18 IPO, Facebook has faced mounting pressure from investors, who understandably want to see faster revenue growth to justify the prices they paid for stock. And what drove up those prices were the desires of those same investors to own a piece of the company. Although Facebook shares have risen in recent months, they remain more than 30 percent off from their initial offering price.

Back in December, Facebook began experimenting with a new revenue model: paid messaging. Facebook is currently testing a paid messages program that will enable users to reach out to those outside their network of friends for a fee of $1 per message. Although the service is early in the testing phase, it holds potential to alter the messaging function for both brands and consumers alike.

Facebook is changing everyone’s privacy settings into dynamic filters that let “relevant” messages through. These moves address Facebook’s old settings that caused important messages to sometimes go unseen.

They are also capping the number of paid messages you can receive per week at one for now to reduce the potential for abuse.

According to a December study by AYTM Market Research, 26% of surveyed US Facebook users reported sending and receiving messages often. Moreover, 35% said they sometimes used the messaging feature. The survey showed that only 13% of users never used the service.

Brand marketers are eagerly waiting for the ultimate result as they also want to join in the action. The pay option lets a user pay via credit card to send a message to a Facebook user outside of his or her friend base. AYTM surveyed Facebook users about this capability and found the vast majority in opposition—90% of users said they would definitely not pay $1 to send messages to users outside their network.

Messaging option on facebook is yet to be explored by brand marketers. Messages work differently for brand pages than they do for individual Facebook users. Brands are able to respond to a user’s wall post on their page via a personal message. They are also able to respond to an individual’s private message, but they aren’t able to message users of their own accord.

Data from the Relevancy Group indicated that in April 2012, 46% of US marketers reportedly used Facebook messaging as a marketing tactic. However, when looking toward the next 12 months, only 19% said they planned to continue using Facebook private messages.

Only time will tell whether this experiment of facebook will work or not, marketers will surely rope in and it result in increased consumer usage of the messaging function.

Now, brands can utilize the ability to send personalized and relevant messages to its target consumer base who like their brand page. Sponsored Messages, or some similarly named product could offer a super-premium channel for a brand to reach a huge audience quickly and vividly. Facebook has rolled the dice and the results will be soon out.

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