Content Sponsorship and Ads May Kill Facebook

A recent study by the U.K-based UTalkMarketing.com, revealed that Facebook users are prepared to migrate elsewhere if the social networking site becomes too commercial. When 1,000 Facebook users were asked, ‘If Facebook becomes more commercialized with advertising or sponsorship, would you be less likely to use it?’ 40 per cent declared they would definitely use it less. That translates into 16 million consumers globally who would potentially quit using Facebook.

Social networking sites like Facebook have always presented a tricky problem as to how they can successfully monetize their mass audience. Furthermore, it appears that social networkers are very protective of their online territory–my theory is because it is their personal parlor for exchanging info with buddies, but also because many Facebook pages involve a great deal of creative output that the users feel is proprietary. Over a third (36 per cent) of Facebook users agreed “it is inappropriate for brands to be involved in social networking sites” at all.

Similarly, the research carries a similar caution to advertisers. Rather than create a positive impression with a younger generation of influential consumers it has the opposite effect – with some 20 per cent of Facebook users saying they would look ‘unfavorably’ on brands who sponsor it or create commercial applications. More likely to succeed, is sponsoring online events or “empty-canvass” opportunities that help the user-base express themselves and earn recognition or make a difference. We may be facing a time when branding without altruism is a dead end.