from the disconnect-with-fans-plus-reason-to-not-buy dept
We've talked before about services that attempt to measure someone's social media "influence" and the inherent silliness of the concept. Although the numerical values assigned by services like Klout are, at best, weak indicators of a person's actual influence, it's not surprising that people are trying to make it work. The advertising industry has run on flimsy numbers for a long time: newspaper readerships and television ratings are all extrapolated, not directly measured, and advertisers pay rates based on numbers that may or may not be indicative of how much exposure they are really getting. This was an advantageous situation for the media industry, but the digital world has largely nullified that advantage. Today's advertisers are clamouring for social campaigns and viral ads, but ad agencies and publications aren't quite sure how to actually measure those things—or how to charge for them.
So it's interesting, but pretty bizarre, to see some short film creators attempt a promotion that places an arbitrary
dollar- penny-value on their fans' Facebook friends:
A 40-minute film called Andy X (about the life of Andy Warhol), which was available for streaming starting Feb. 22, is offering interested viewers an opportunity to get a discount on the $6.99 price tag. As the promotion explains, "We're trying something a little different here. We're letting you pay to watch the movie by using your friends as currency."
In other words, one Facebook friend equals one cent. If you have 300 friends, you'll pay $3.99 for the rental. Don't get too excited if you have more than 400 friends since there is a cap ($2.99 is the least you'll be able to pay to stream the film).
It's a novel idea, but one that I doubt will work for a variety of reasons. For one thing, number of friends is an even worse influence metric than something like Klout, which at least looks at multiple factors. People use Facebook in all kinds of different ways: someone with 100 friends might be a quiet user who uses the site for little more than private messages and birthday wishes, or they might be a powerful voice who keeps a small social circle of others like them. Similarly, someone with 1000 friends might be a trendsetting socialite, or they might be an indiscriminate social media butterfly whose posts are lost in the noisy news feeds of other people who also have 1000 friends each, and who don't really remember who they are.
Moreover, the promotion doesn't actually encourage fans to do anything. Nobody is going to go out and add an extra hundred friends to save a dollar, and those getting the full discount have no added incentive to actually use their supposed influence on behalf of the movie. I bet this promotion will alienate a lot of people, since it's basically a direct insult to anyone with fewer than 400 friends. Telling your fans that they have to pay more because they don't use Facebook the way you want them to (or don't use it at all) is not going to endear you to them. "You have been weighed in the balance of customers, and found wanting."
I'm all for creators trying to leverage the evangelistic powers of their fans, but the creators of Andy X have really missed the mark. Their promotion comes across less as a reward for fans who have big social circles and more as a punishment for those who don't—and it doesn't encourage either group to do anything useful.