How great would it be to get paid every time you liked or followed a company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.?
Businesses make money off of our time and attention due to advertising. Every time you like, follow, share a link, etc. relating to business, you are in effect advertising for that business. Those simple actions give businesses a better reputation, more links, positive reviews, traffic to their website, higher Google rankings, etc.
At the end of the day there is nothing free that still requires the human touch. But these businesses continue to gather publicity and exposure for free or be charged by a third party for them, i.e. Facebook and Twitter, all without compensating the people providing the actual likes, follows, and shares that generate that exposure.
Obviously, liking, following, and sharing have value for businesses, but what about the people actually doing the liking, sharing, and following?
Consider, for a moment, the following article by Herbert A. Simon, who talks about the attention economy in this frequently quoted paragraph:
“…in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it”
Many new technologies are emerging that do just that: attempting to allocate attention more efficiently. Whether it’s Facebook’s new Social Graph, Yahoo’s proposed Interest Graph, or the Google Social Graph API, companies are realizing its user’s attention is a finite resource that must be better managed.
The countless unpaid likes and comments we give one another every day are free. Since they are free to us, they have very little value in and of themselves, but to businesses they are worth their weight in virtual gold. These are currencies of the new Web World of reputation and attention. In this market, these currencies are measured in “eye balls”. These eye balls are manifested by social friends, connections, and followers. They act like free gifts that play role in cementing our social connection. It gives social and emotional rewards. These currencies grants us is respect, attention, expression and an audience. We measure our success not in dollars, but in the likes, comments we give away.
However, there are costs involved in this economy. Economist labels it “Other Costs”, when they deal with things don’t fit the basic models of economy. One of those is “opportunity costs”, the value of something else you might have done with the time you were at lunch.
Therefore, I created the following binary currency. And, maybe it is time to start thinking charging people for likes and comments. Or it is time for us to get some royalties and commission from companies that will advertise to us products based on our Likes and sharing. And, I don’t see an inflation to this currency.
Question: What if Facebook limited the amount of “Likes” per user? What will happen to like economy?