Photo by Saim on Flickr.
It’s an interesting time to be a value-conscious social media manager in the cultural sector. On the one hand Facebook has started charging to reach your hard-earned fans with your updates, while on the other hand the new service Pheed allows you to monetize your social content. This poses a question that has been in the making for years: what is the value of your social media content and what is it worth to you when you’re selling stuff such as art, heritage and culture?
First, Facebook. Although not all the details are clear, if you want to reach all your fans with an update from your fanpage, you will (soon) have to pay for it. Otherwise your updates will reach only some 15% of your followers. The amount is comparable to what it costs to push a press release to all relevant press, at least in the Netherlands, so this is not outrageous. Yet, are (all) your updates worth to pay money for?
Posting updates has never been free. Creating great content takes time, monitoring and fuelling a discussion takes time, investing in being a brand that is worth following takes time and resources. So, is it still worth writing these (costly) updates if you are unwilling or unable to pay Facebook to push them to your fans.
Pheed, a new service aiming to replace Twitter and Facebook, promises a solution to this question: it allows you to set up subscription-based feeds around your updates. So far I couldn’t find any museums using this opportunity, so we’ll have to look at the likes of David Guetta to see how this works. For about USD 5 a month you will get access to his exclusive content, once his ‘pheed’ launches. All of a sudden, there’s a direct business model for online content, similar to Spotify but curated by someone (or something) you consider an authority.
Using my tried litmus test to see if something might work, I checked if there are any Twitter or Facebook feeds from cultural institutions I’d pay for to follow them. The answer, so far, is “no”, but then these feeds are not set up to be paid, premium content.
Of course there is cultural online content worth paying for. Tate’s YouTube channel, for instance, the Play channel of the Sydney Opera House and Intelligent Life’s Twitter feed if it offered an occasional exclusive, as well as all other high-quality, curated and special content-driven feeds from trustworthy institutions. How much would I pay? USD 5 sounds reasonable if it includes perks such as discounts and special invites.
Facebook has always to a large extend been about self-promotion of your fans as much as about spreading the word. You like pages because you want to be associated with the brand, or because your spouse forces you to. Updates have always been an extra. Pheed, which also offers a free model, might look similar on the outside, but can turn out to be completely the reverse: it will be about the content primarily, and then the brand. This creates a world of opportunities for institutions that are primarily content-based, such as cultural institutions.
Which leaves me with the question: what’s the value of your content? Do you think it can be monetized and people will subscribe, or do you think it’s worth to pay for it to reach a lot of people? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.