Facebook charges people to send messages now, apparently

The problem with switching customers from free to paid


I’m curious has this tactic ever worked successfully for online businesses?

Let’s backtrack. Earlier today I wanted to send a Facebook message to someone on Facebook without jumping through the hoop of adding them on Facebook. (I try to limit my contacts list to people I know or have met at least once)

And here’s what came up:

Facebook -Sending Messages -Charges Users

Did I pay? No.

I ended finding a different way to get the message to them outside of Facebook but it still made me think. Has it ever worked to charge people for an online service that was free before?

The problem here is without any notice, Facebook suddenly decides to charge for something that was previously free. It might have been communicated to everyone, I wouldn’t know I rarely use the e-mail I used to register for the service almost 5+ years ago but suddenly they want me to pay for something that is free.

Here’s what I think is the problem with that:

  1. It’s not just a price change it’s a paradigm shift. Honestly, if something is free and a user is used to it being free then adding a price to it (no matter how low) will make you look bad. And worse, you will probably meet resistance with that
  2. It looks sleazy. Unless you have communicated clearly why you need to do this, and when this change will take in effect your customers, upping something from $0 to $1 might not look like a big deal to you but to the user who suddenly has to use their credit card it just feels a little icky.
  3. Is it really that essential? In other words is your service all that valuable? This change might have happened eons ago and I’m just finding out because I rarely message people outside of my friend list as is, but to me sending messages to strangers on Facebook is one of those things I have always been able to do, but never really used. So if the goal is to stop people from sending messages to people outside their friend list THANK YOU, the less creepy “friendly” messages from strangers in one’s inbox the better. But if the point is to actually make money off this thing then Good luck with that.
  4. is what you are charging for irreplaceable? the behemoth of social media, Facebook, is unique, but is what they are charging for all that special? Can there be other ways to get in touch? My argument is if there is no alternative then users may grumble and complain but if they have no choice, then they have no choice. Of course, they might hate you for it, but they will grumble and make the switch or stop using the service. But with the option of sending an e-mail, a direct message on Twitter, connecting on LinkedIn there are other options online that I don’t have to pay for, so sorry.

Online or Off-line Communication is Key

Facebook has a history of not really communicating some of it’s shady low-key changes like when it created e-mail accounts for everyone, or its gift system. So really if your users don’t know it’s there would they really like your shiny new idea? Whether it’s a crisis or a new product or what you would consider a small change, communicating clearly with customers BEFORE putting something into effect can make the difference between a hit or miss. And it’s ways of communicating can be improved. Outside of people who are really into tech and social media I don’t think that many people out there that have heard of it’s latest News feed makeover. One would think with the number of increasingly intrusive advertising there would be something that pops up on the news feed of every user about major changes.

Buzz can only do so much if it’s industry specific for a product that everyone uses.

In my humble opinion

Personally, I don’t think Facebook was ever meant to be that big of a money-making machine, its essential -yes, but a big money-maker? I don’t think so. It’s like being charged for G-mail or Hotmail (or Outlook.com as they are desperately trying to re-brand themselves) you could make some money off the advertising and the business that are willing to pay to reach people but the user experience should be left alone. Maybe I’m wrong but the harder they try to make the ordinary user pay the more it feels forced.

By the way, for an example of a company that did manage to make the switch well, look at Hulu. Leave the people who are happy with the service as is alone, and make others who really want to pay for the extra perk of an unlimited experience pay (which for Facebook that’s businesses) It still keeps your core feel-good value of providing your product for free but allows bug fans to upgrade. But as Pandora would tell you, it’s really a hit or miss.

It reminds me of that TED talk Amanda Palmer gave that everyone raved about, let people choose how they want to pay or support you.

Have an opinion? Share it below!

The New Currency and How It Affects Your Business

BlackMilK Marketing Small Business

It used to be that money could buy you attention.

Spend enough on advertising ad promotions and you could badger people with your message, jingle, mascot, whatever.

Times are changing. The big guys can buy as many ads as they want, but with so many distractions one thing they can’t command as much anymore is our attention.

Yes, there are those that believe you just have to figure out how to advertise on the new media platforms, but in reality people tend to either ignore those ads or find them an irritating necessity to getting their free video, music or game.

How to Get Your Business/Products Attention

The new currency in today’s world is influence and trust, and it’s not automatically going to whoever spends the most. Instead it’s going to whoever can get the most authentic connection with people who genuinely care about what they are selling.

It’s marketing that’s not for the masses, there are just too many distractions. Today’s main target is the niche, because with just  a small market of passionate fans you can go global.

Brand case study: BlackMilk Clothing

When leggings came back in style, you could get them for $10 at your local mall. They were not that hard to find. So how could an unknown one-man business from Australia, selling leggings at least $80 a piece, gain fans from all over the world in places as far and vast as New York, Thailand, Tokyo, Africa and Latin America?

Here’s how:

  1. He grew a community of buyers through his blog that genuinely interested in and wanted to know about his products.
  2. He included and appreciated this audience in his marketing which consists of uploading pictures of fans wearing the brand’s products through Facebook and Istagram.
  3. He made his brand a cult item -avid fans were dubbed “sharkies”- and sold his products exclusively online. He even allowed the “sharkies” to sometimes vote for which pieces were brought back in the online store.

BlackMilk does not make products that cater to everybody, and it’s not trying to.

What the founder, James Lillis, understood is that the old method favored those with the most money to spend on mass advertising and promotions. He tried that and it failed. But with the right targeting he could get to the top influencers in his niche market gain their trust, and from there it trickled down to their followers who became his followers. Because of this people paid attention to what he offered, and trusted in his products and that brought in the customers.

The Empowered Marketer

Now more than ever you have a choice as  marketer. You can beat the drum to an old tune and spend x amount of dollars advertising to get attention. Or you can grow that organically by allowing people to opt-in to your message and choose to hear what you have to say. You can build a geuine connection, and real interest by building a kid of trust that the old methods can’t buy.

It’s a new way of marketing that can apply to everything from a pastry shop to a clothing business. To command the loyalty and following that brands like BlackMilk have takes a more genuine and honest approach, not a catchy tune.

The top influencers in a niche market have something valuable that money can’t buy trust and loyalty. The takeaway for business, is to cut all the crap and tell genuine stories.

It’s that simple. But not that easy. Because it takes time, and effort and patience and the return on investment is not immediately clear.

But with the power that influence (convincing people to buy a product without having to advertise to them) and trust (genuine belief, connection and identity with your brand) have, it’s a currency that most businesses cannot afford to miss.

Tell your genuine story, appreciate your humble beginnings, and patiently grow your fan base one person at a time. Or find the people influencing your customers, and appeal to their genuine liking, and wait for the trickle down effect.

Trust and influence, that’s what buys you attention, that’s the new currency.

Image credit: Facebook-BlackMilk

This post is part of a series on Branding and Social Media for small business, follow me via Twitter or join me via E-mail to receive your fresh copy of helpful small business online marketing strategies.

Daisy Quaker is an internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media strategy, content marketing, e-mail marketing, connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

FISH! A New Way to Spark to a Better Social Media Presence

Do you like the smell of fresh fish? How would you feel about working at a fish market where that, and dealing with slippery fresh fish greets you everyday?

I would certainly end up crabby (no pun intended), but the good people of a popular Seattle fish market turned this dynamic around.

They made their fish market a pleasant, welcoming, and fun, place to be (check out this video). Now I think going to a fish market like that wouldn’t be so bad.

And so because of this fun-loving bunch, the FISH! Philosophy to customer service was born, and has become an approach to creating a positive and engaging customer service experience that is part of customer service training.

How FISH! can help you in social media

The FISH! philosophy is about dealing with people, coincidentally so is social media. Applying this approach can have a wonderful effect to your social media presence whether it’s for small business or your personal brand. The 4 elements of can help create a more meaningful presence on the various social media networks out there.


How many of us have liked a corporate company on say Facebook, when all their posts or statuses lack energy? Or the connection is so focused on promoting their work that the account becomes a soapbox.

FISH! Philosphy-Play

Some companies are so focused on having a clear and consistent (safe) voice that makes their posts dull to read. While other businesses have found a way to sound like a person, and bring some fun and energy to their page. The results? Their connections or followers respond!

PLAY is about bringing energy, and can be applied to your own situation, whether it’s creating awareness for a bog, business or product. Bring energy and fun to what you post, and your community will play with you.


You do not get to choose how people receive or approach you or your business on social media, but you do get to choose how you respond.

FISH! Philosophy -Choose your Attitude

For example, I recently put together a short beginner’s guide to social media. Towards the end of the project I was exhausted, frustrated and just wanted to be done with it. So I skipped a few grammar and spelling errors in my last review. A reader came across some grammar and spelling errors and decided to contact me. I could have been defensive (which I was at first) but then I decided to change my attitude, and welcome criticism, and hopefully that reader will stop back again in future.

Being on social media you will meet either complaints, criticism or negative feedback choose your attitude in how you respond. A lot of companies big and small have had scandals where they mishandled social media and it came back to bite them: Volkswagen, and the Ocean Marketing scandal spring to mind. Bring positivity to how you respond in comments, tweets, or Facebook statuses it helps reinforce positive associations people have with your brand.


I believe it’s Plato who once said, “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

FISH! Philosophy -Make Their DaySo make someone’s day today. Find people on social media you want to connect with or that follow you and comment on their work. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who does not like receiving a compliment or just simple recognition. Try and apply this by following up to every other Twitter follower you receive. Take a peek at what they are working on and comment. I don’t do this as often as I would like but think about how great is when people acknowledge your efforts.

This also applies to newsletters; instead of having some “donotreply” address why not put one that people can respond to? Every once in a while I will read something in one of the newsletters that would really spark my creativity, being able to reach out and say a simple thank you or just my response would make me more likely to read future newsletters I receive from the writer.


Be engaged, be present, and be responsive.

FISH! Philosophy -Be ThereFor a small business or a personal brand you don’t have to be on every social media channel out there, but you should try to be engaged and active on the one’s you do join, otherwise what’s the point?

Social media is an engagement tool, and if you have Likes, followers or connections and you fail to respond, then you miss out on the potential of deepening these bonds. Many people think social media is killing the quality of human interactions, but I think if used correctly it can create an extension of it. So be there, where your customers or audience is, and be engaged in the conversation.

Have some thoughts? Share them below, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Featured Image credit- Flickr-David L.

Daisy Quaker is a freelance internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media strategy, content marketing, e-mail marketing and internet marketing strategy. In her spare time she writes a personal style blog. Find her on Twitter and Google+ and tell her what strategies work for your business.

Starting from Scratch: The Newbie’s Guide to top 5 Social Media Networks

By Daisy Quaker

Fingers typing on keyboard-Beginner's Guide to Social MEdia for BusinessWhether it’s for business or networking use, social media has exploded to become a staple to any Internet user’s day. Checking your Facebook or Twitter accounts and connecting with people has become a necessity for business or personal use. Everyone is on social media, by everyone; I am referring to, for example, the 901 million Facebook users.

You can’t afford to ignore social media.

I can relate to this because I tried. When Twitter came out, I thought it was a fad. I assumed it was for the egocentric that wanted everyone to know what they were thinking at every minute. I was not eager to share my thoughts with the world. But a year passed, and then another, and another, and Twitter was not going away, quite the opposite, it kept growing. Until I finally had to swallow my pride, and admit that the social network was here to stay.

In that time where I was stubborn, I missed out on learning how to use it as a networking and business platform, all because I stuck my head in the sand.

Are you ready to develop your social media strategy?

Download the FREE guide:  The Newbie’s Guide to Social Media (No commitment, no obligation)

Even if you have some accounts out there, understanding the power and potential of each can set your business apart, and worth following.

But with the so many platforms out there, finding the right tools to work for your business can be a challenge, and can occupy a full day’s work. Big companies and brands can afford to have a dedicated social networking professional managing their multiple accounts, but what about small businesses?

It is tricky figuring out which social media platform is right for your business if you don’t know how they can each be applied. Most marketers are not even talking about how to build your brand on social media anymore, the conversation has moved from what is it, and why use it to how to manage it.

This guide initially started out as a post, but as it progressed I decided a better course of action would be to offer it as a short free guide is yours to download, share, e-mail or whatever you wish to use it for.

This free guide does 3 things:

  • Breaks down the basic definition of each platform
  • Gives a snapshot of the number of user on each network
  • Talks about how to apply each network for marketing your business

The market and users are on social media, your business should be too. So without further ado here is the Newbie’s guide to social media platform, because it’s never to late to join the party.

Download the guide free of charge at no commitment. Use as you wish, share with people you think might find it useful and enjoy.

Click this link to download this short, free guide.

Image credit: Flickr- Saxoncampbell

This post is part of a weekly series, on the essentials guide to Marketing Planning, and Online Brand Development.

Daisy Quaker is a freelance internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media strategy, content marketing, e-mail marketing and internet marketing strategy, find her on Twitter and tell her what strategies work for your business.

TV advertising is overrated

The quickest way to flush money down the toilet?

Do a big tv ad.

Yes it does generate recognition, and traditionally big business have been built on these but let’s face it, with the astounding number of channels, most people will not remember the ad once that runs for a short time, and even if they do, this may not generate sales leads.Add to the mix how people tend to multitask and zone commercials out while watching TV (according to a recent study) and you’ve got yourself an expensive way to try to get your audience’s attention.

Continue reading “TV advertising is overrated”