Facebook is testing a new service, charging users to send a private prioritised message to their favourite celebrity’s inbox. Here ClickThrough Marketing’s Martin Boonham, with a ruthless glint in his eye, looks at what the introduction of paid messaging really means to the social networking giant’s users.
Facebook paid messages let you contact your favourite celebrities – for a cost.
The social media giant has put a price on fame, charging users on a sliding scale to message celebs of all shapes and sizes.
The UK’s most expensive famous Facebooker is sprout faced diving champ Tom Daley. It will cost £10.68 to send Tom a message…with no guarantee of a reply.
Conversely, it costs a measly 71p to message giant funnywoman Miranda Hart.
So, with a small budget for celebrity communique, I need to make a decision: Do I send ten messages to the marvellous Miranda, or just the one to tiny Tom?
Now, before I blow the tenner burning a hole in my backpocket on some frivolous digitised splurge, liberally splattered with a less than healthy dose of sickly sweet compliments, it is probably best to put this all into context.
Facebook is currently testing out the new money-making initiative of charging users money in order to message people outside of their group of friends – such as their favourite celebrities.
It’s drawn a reaction of disdain from some.
But should we be surprised? Probably not.
The California-based social media site experimented with a similar scheme at the start of this year. In that instance, users could pay upwards of $100 dollars to message famous figures, including its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
It didn’t exactly catch on, though.
My Facebook messages are usually made up of a single sentence, or even a single word – and I assume that many users use the service in the same way.
So those who habitually message (read: harass) celebrities with brief bursts of fractured nonsense will have to get used to creating, well, longer bursts of fractured nonsense to get the most for their money.
Thankfully, though, the trialled change won’t affect normal messaging – when users message those on their own list of friends. They’ll only be charged for messaging those they don’t know, or outsiders they just don’t like.
The social networking giant has claimed the initiative could cut down the level of spam and junk messages circulated around Facebook.
The sliding pricing structure is apparently based around an algorithm that prices messages depending on the number of followers a user has on Facebook.
It is an interesting venture for sure, but one has to question how some people can vindicate to themselves spending over a tenner on sending a message to their favourite celebrity.
To put it into perspective - would you rather message Snoop Lion telling him how ‘dope’ his new album is, or simply pre-order the album on Amazon for just over a pound more?
And it’s not just American superstars that have been given whopping prices either.
So, looking at things from a UK perspective, aforementioned Devonian diver Tom Daley is our pièce de résistance – it’ll cost users a staggering £10.68 to send him a single message.
I don’t know about where you live, but in my neck of the woods, four kids could go swimming for that price.
Is swimming more fun than Facebook messaging? Yes.
Is it more active? Certainly.
But can I do it while lounging around at home eating a burger?
Now you’ve got me there.
Who else? Well, ginger-haired rapping/singing boy wonder Ed Sheeran can be messaged for the same price – or rather two of his fake Facebook accounts can.
So essentially, you can pay a premium to message somebody pretending to be somebody you’ve never met – and no, seeing him perform at the Brits doesn’t count.
If you admire Ed Sheeran so much, why not support him directly by purchasing two copies of his album, +? Or, even better, perform a perfect imitation by buying a copy of his album and some ginger hair dye, and miming along in the mirror with tennis-racket-guitar in hand?
Thankfully, some British celebs have been landed with the same nominal charge as the rest of us mere mortals.
It’s an eclectic mix, but just for 71p you can send a message to the likes of Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott or health secretary Jeremy Hunt, and of course the colossal comedienne, Miranda Hart.
So that means a choice: One message to Daley for a tenner, or a concerted campaign on Miranda’s inbox featuring no less than 15 messages from yours truly?
It’s a no brainer, surely?
Joking aside, 71p is little more than a postage stamp these days. So why is this any different to the old-school method of sitting down and writing David Platt a letter saying what an inspiration he was to your football career? Or was that just me?
When put into perspective, the move doesn’t benefit anyone bar Facebook, since it’s transpired that even if you don’t opt to pay to send the message, it will still be delivered to your celebrity or random Facebook user of choice– just in a low key folder instead of their inbox. Either way, any money generated goes straight into Facebook’s coffers.
In essence then, this paying-to-send-your-message lark is the equivalent of opting for the special delivery service, as opposed as just buying a second class stamp.
The trouble is, when so many people opt for the latter service, is it likely to make any difference?
Only time will tell if this system becomes successful, but knowing this culture of placing even the most minor celebrities on platinum-plated pedestals, you’d have to say it is more than likely.
The only real question is will people choose the Facebook priority service over Twitter, which currently offers a similar chance of brushing with the stars –but without having to shell out cold hard cash.