Facebook and you - If you're not paying for it you're not the customer, you're the productThe must watch TV tonight for me was BBC2’s documentary “Inside Facebook”, a Money Programme look at what makes Facebook tick.

With the inevitable challenge of trying to make it suitable for all audiences, it often swung too far to the basics at times. However, it did provide some interesting insights and anecdotes on life at Facebook, from how it all started, to how it’s grown from a “geek idea” into a multi billion dollar business while Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated his commitment to Facebook by his continued turning down of increasingly large offers to buy the company.

Facebook & Privacy
One of the most telling moments in the programme was when the question as put to the VP of Public Policy at Facebook about the use of users’ pictures in advertising for pages they had “liked”. There was a long pause, after which he tried to¬†defend sponsored stories as “ranking mechanism” not advertising, a very wooly answer, and hitting at the heart of Facebook’s reality. That, in reality, the product they are selling is you – the user – if you’re not paying for something it’s very unlikely that you are the customer. The cartoon featured with this post, tells that story perfectly. Thanks to Mike Ashworth for sharing with me, sourced from Very Demotivational.

Is Google Plus a challenge?
This question was put to Mark, and the pause and slight smirk that passed across his face gave the real answer, while his lips gave a polite response.

Paying for poop
The other, sightly disturbing, highlight was when one user told how he paid one pound (real money!) to buy a virtual display case to display his virtual pet poop! This demonstrates one of the other ways, in addition to advertising, that Facebook is monetising its site, by allowing users in games to pay real money to buy virtual elements and advantages within Facebook games.

Advertising models
There was some good coverage of the advertising model and business promotion methods within the Facebook platform, from how to target particular audience groups, testing adverts for effectiveness, to making effective use of business pages. Very useful if you’re investigating how to promote your business on Facebook.

In summary, I would highly recommend viewing of this programme for anyone learning about using Facebook for their business. It would also make great viewing for those who are trying to understand just what all the fuss is about or are starting to have concerns about their online privacy. But for those of us who work and live our lives highly engaged in the various social media platforms, there was little new to learn. And the most interesting discussion about it was happening on  . . . . Twitter!