What does Facebook create? What is its creative output? The simple answer: Nothing! You create for it!
Facebook is a typical example of a business model that serves as a coupling element between two parties. It offers a platform on which users can create and spread their own content. They offer no content of their own. You, as a user, are the target audience. But wait, you don’t pay Facebook. Advertisers do. So basically, Facebook is catering to two audiences. Content creators and users on one side, and advertisers on the other.
The same goes for Google. Its marketing efforts are focussed on you, to keep you using their search engine. At the same time, they are focussing on businesses to pay for prominent positions within these search results. Another example of double front marketing.
Nothing new, you might say. Television and radio have worked the same way for decades. The refreshing part, nowadays, is that these companies are making billions without creating a single piece of content. You are the one posting pictures and writing messages on Facebook. You have built that beautiful website that is featured in Google’s search results. You are recording the videos that appear on Youtube. It seems you can now make more money by doing less!
The internet era has dramatically democratized big reach. With a little luck, your online video can get more views today than the eight ‘o clock news. This has changed our economy forever. Big businesses are focussing on enabling you to reach out, instead of reaching out to you. Wether its the music business or quality journalism, content creators are struggling. Creation enablers are blooming.
So how do you join this powerful group of companies? By carefully practicing double front marketing!
Most of these endeavors have one thing in common: the ones using the service, are not the ones paying for it. This results in a business model in which marketing is practiced on two fronts. To acquire and retain users, and to acquire and retain payers. Payers often, but not necessarily, being advertisers.
These companies do one simple thing: they add value to one group, for another. Facebook categorizes consumers, gaining an unparalleled insight in their behavior and preferences. This is of high value to advertisers, who can now exploit a higher level of focus. As business models go, it’s as elegant as it gets. Modern online research agencies do something similar. They group and categorize users, to allow businesses to put out queries with extreme precision. The business model, obviously, does not limit itself to advertising.
It can be extremely refreshing to think about your own business this way. How are your activities creating value for different kinds of parties? It could very well be that you are catering to one front, while another is holding massive concealed value for you. Take a look at the other side! And maybe, you are creating something that people will gladly create for you, for free! Maybe you just have to enable them!