Check out this story on Facebook and try out the interactive calculator for your facebook value. This is great publicity for Facebook. An attention grabbing, if low-key, “call to action”. Free media coverage for Facebook just before the much publicized IPO.
This news report of a nifty “calculator” of what you are worth to Facebook is no doubt doing the rounds (in blog posts like this), and engages readers/users in an interactive exercise as “co-creators of value” in much the same way that the popular Intel Museum of Me did. http://www.intel.com/museumofme/en_AU/r/index.htm
Answer a few simple demographic questions, enter your frequency (of Facebook activity) and reach (number of friends, number of likes), and you’ll get a dollar figure of your value to Facebook. Mine was $9 (based on what my Facebook activity was like before I ditched Facebook). While I was pleasantly surprised, a non-Facebook friend was insulted on my behalf, thinking it devalued me. Evidently he did not understanding that this was a value related to advertising revenue. The calculator is a fantasy demonstration of the ease with which value can be determined in social networks. The value of commodites and services, the value of audiences/users, the value of the social networks they participate in. The news story – and the popular calculator itself – presume a knowing public. The majority of readers/users are more aware of media business models and the commodification of audiences/users, their eyes/clicks and their data, than my Luddite friend who kindly figured I was worth more than $9.
I like the way this story, and the viral distribution of the “value” calculator, educates the public not so much about the dollar value of individuals to Facebook, but about emergent business models that enable ‘free’ use of social networks and other media. For years, foremost in our minds as users of new media was the marvel of (free) access to open networks, content, communications and community. Now, we are appealed to as savvy users and would-be investors, who evidently understand how such technological marvels are “monetized” and know that our participation has dollar value in the equation. This little calculator makes the determination of value seem simple . And belies the complexity, diversity and uncertainty of calculations, estimations and opinions about the market value of Facebook.