Each day Facebook serves as a procrastination tool for students struggling to write papers, office workers stranded at their desks, and social media junkies getting their fix.
But what if posting on Facebook was your job? What if users made money based on all the content they generated for the interactive Internet community? After all, Facebook wouldn't be worth $100 billion without its dedicated fan base of Web addicts, whose posts make the content that makes the social media site useful and entertaining. So do you, or we, deserve a share of the value of the company?
Before scoffing, consider that there are responsible people who make this case. For example, New York Times reporter Nick Bilton certainly feels that Web-surfers deserve some sort of compensation for their contribution to Mark Zuckerberg's online empire.
Where's my cut? I helped build this thing too, Bilton wrote in the Times. Facebook laid the foundation of the house and put in the plumbing, but we put up the walls, picked out the furniture, painted and hung photos, and invited everyone over for dinner parties.
And Bilton isn't the only one that feels entitled to a slice of the 27-year-old billionaire's paycheck. A Facebook page titled Getting paid for wasting time on Facebook! now has over 10 thousand Likes.
But paying users to generate Facebook posts would bring that idea to an entirely new level. Although businesses use social media as an effective marketing strategy, paying users to actually generate original content would alter the nature of the website, which is simply to answer the ongoing question What's on your mind?
And it could also affect the content, possibly resulting in unnaturally forced--and ultimately less desireable--posts. I would say it makes sense in a narrow business sense sort of view, said Sanford Ikeda, a professor of economics at SUNY Purchase and visiting scholar at New York University. But on the other hand, the growth of Facebook has occurred largely because there hasn't been a charge.
I think you might perversely change the development of Facebook from a free-wheeling, open-range nature, if you started paying people, Ikeda adds. If you started paying people, you would need a different kind of participant, and that might have consequences that might not be desirable.
Then there's also the business aspect. Most of Facebook's digital interaction centers on the creation of different groups, which could make it difficult to break down payment figures.
I wouldn't want to say that you couldn't do it, said Ikeda. But I have a feeling that given the sort of specialization one can do with grouping on Facebook that might take away from the paid-per-service type of arrangement.
But employees are getting paid to use social media devices. Statistics show that 60 percent of large charities and universities are on Facebook, and 77 percent of consumers said they interact with brands on Facebook through reading posts and updates.
I think social media is a great way to reach people that aren't actively looking for a business, said Sarah Mogin, social media and public relations manager for online marketing agency Ajax Union. It's a good way to show ads to people that you think would like your product even if they don't need it right now.
According to Mogin, clients of the Brooklyn-based company have been requesting more Facebook activity, especially as its ever-changing layout allows for more advertorial opportunities.
It's about adapting into sites and services that somebody else built, and that could change at any time, she said. I know any time Facebook changes anything, there's always a mad scramble to see how we could use that.
And as for getting a cut of Zuckerberg's billions, Mogin said the company deserves their shares.
It's almost like an even split, she said. They've done their part and we've done our part, so it's been a collaborative experience.