Facebook local affiliates: the time is now

Facebook logoMark Zuckerberg and Facebook are at a very important crossroads, and the company needs to begin paying just a little attention to the wants and needs of those outside entities who are helping take the company into new territory instead of trying to manage the giant ship entirely from a centralized command and control center. I’m serious here. Facebook is already special, but its potential to be so much more is directly connected to this, and I’m afraid its tendency will be to do the wrong thing.

Last week, our company reported that one of our TV clients, WLEX-TV in Lexington, KY, had reached a milestone with Facebook, surpassing 54,000 fans and becoming the top TV station in the country in its use of the social media giant. Facebook is the number one outside contributor to the WLEX-TV website, bringing more people to the station’s Continuous News product that Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. LEX18 knows how to use Facebook. The station is also involved in a University of Kentucky sports Facebook fan page, so it’s fair to say they understand the value of Facebook as much as anybody.

The problem is that the relationship is one-way at a time when, if Facebook wants to grow as a business, it needs to drop the “thus saith the Lord” attitude and begin reaching out to people like this who could actually bring them revenue. Instead, we find Facebook cramping down on everything, applying new restrictions upon new restrictions. Not only is this bad strategy, but I find it surprising, because it’s so 20th Century.

For all its global reach, Facebook is one of the most locally-used applications on the Web. It redefines local media in terms of use, but little of its money comes from local sources.

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg. You will never make the money by yourself that you could with everybody working together. You’ve created a spectacular platform for commerce. Now is the time to share by letting others do the work for you. Hell, they’ve already created the audience!

What Facebook needs is an affiliate program where people like our client would have a contact to discuss revenue sharing options generated at the local level. The result would be to turn loose hundreds of thousands of sales feet on the street, so that companies who bring significant amounts of traffic to the Zuckerberg empire could share in the reward of the accomplishment.

Instead, we get new legal requirements on the one hand and announcements that you can now watch movies via Facebook, big whooptydo!

Your competitors know that local is where it’s at in terms of revenue growth. It’s sitting right there in front of you. All you have to do is open the door.

Dude, call me.

Comments

  1. invitedmedia says:

    i rarely disagree, but here i do.

    i’d be interested in your thoughts on-

    1.) when facebook has wlex (and every other station in the country) in essence doing their work for them for FREE, why would they need to cut them in on the action now?

    2.) i just pulled up the tvb us household dma rankings and #63 lexington has ~515k tv households; would “partnering” (which i’ll assume means some sort of market exclusive for wlex, etc to be profitable) be wise for facebook when wlex followers are roughly 10% of that? realize i do that “tv households” include more than 1 person per and that 10% is being very generous.

    3.) if not exclusive, then what? are all lexington stations in on the partnership? heck, local tv station groups can’t even get ONE group of themselves to front for mdtv.

    i’m curious on your thoughts here.

  2. All I’m saying is that these local companies need the flexibility to work the FB platform to make money and split the revenue with FB. They’re missing great opportunities. I consider FB to be “spectrum within spectrum” (old essay), a place where local media should be able to compete. They can’t do it for revenue unless FB makes that possible.

  3. my comment came off much more harsh than i meant it to, hope you got the gist though.

    btw, i used your “spectrum within spectrum” line just the other day (w/attribution- ‘course).

    thanks for the response- hope you’re back to your “hip” self in no time!

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