One of the worst things I believe to ever to happen to blogging, Pay-Per-Post, has created a beach-head application on Facebook. My complaint with pay-per-post schemes (and not just the company of that name) is not with bloggers having advertising — or even with the notion of having sponsored posts — it’s with the way in which they had to be shamed into requiring their participating bloggers to disclose that posts are “paid.” If their strategy is to soon start paying people to post paid messages on notes and on walls, they will run into a brick wall. Unlike a blog, on Facebook, everyone is both a reader and writer. For most users, it will always be more of an identity platform than a publishing platform. If you want to know “How to monetize your Facebook account,” my advice is this: don’t ever accept money for putting anything on it — and, indeed, the day they offer a “pro” version that will allow you to suppress the ads they serve up on it, pay for it. If you do something so uncool as post paid messages on your profile, your “social graph” will head downward as people start to un-friend you. In fact, if I see anyone with a PayPerPost application on their account, it will be enough for me to block them.
Later: In response to some pay per post fans who are letting me know they disagree with what they think I’ve written rather than what I’ve actually written, in this post, here’s a little more explanation.
I have been fairly explicit in explaining my attitude towards pay-per-post ads. I believe if someone is transparent and says, I was paid to make this post, I believe they have raised above a minimum ethical standard…so I DID NOT SAY I will “unfriend” anyone who has a pay-per-post account or who has sponsored posts. That is not the issue I am talking about today. What I did say is this: I will block anyone on Facebook who “jestures” to me their Facebook identity is for sale. Adding the payperpost application is clearly such a jesture to me. I don’t want my mini-feed filled with ‘notes’ and ‘shared links’ that are being posted by someone who is being paid to do so…and while I don’t think that may be a part of the pay-per-post model yet, adding such an application is clearly a move into that direction.
As for why a Facebook account is different than a blog, let me try to explain this in a simple way: While I view this blog as my identity, I know that many people view their blogs as “a publishing platform” on which they write — a content-management-platform with a goofy name, as one of my friends calls it. To them, a blog is a platform on which they “publish.” That’s fine and I applaud that and in those cases, advertising or sponsorship or any ethical business behavior is fine. Geez, if I were a NASCAR racer, I’d feel fine about having logos all over my car and clothing.
However, if I were a NASCAR driver, I wouldn’t want logos painted all over my house in the suburbs or tatoo’d on my children’s foreheads. Someone’s blog can be their race car — or their uniform. However, if you turn your Facebook identity into the same deal, well, you can expect some folks to tune out. I’m one of those folks.
Later.2: Robert Scoble says he doesn’t want to Amway his friends. Great analogy.