It’s an interesting question and certainly varies depending on your perspective. Goldman Sachs thinks Facebook is worth $50 billion. Financial blogger Barry Ritholtz has doubts about Facebook’s ability to monetize its user base:
If and when Facebook goes public, they must monetize their user base â€” I find it hard to see how they do that without annoying their base of users away. . . The challenge for FB is that as a free site, there is a dynamic tension between the usersÂ and the people who seek to monetize those users.
As marketers, we look at Facebook’s numbers and salivate. This year, Facebook overtook Google as the most trafficked site on the web. Facebook logs more visitors and more time spent per visitor on the site than any other. Most of its users are in the coveted 18-49 demographic. (In fact, less than 9% of its users are teen-agers.)
All of these numbers would be meaningless to marketers, of course, if we can’t find a way to reach and engage with this massive horde of users. The explosion in business Facebook pages is one way for businesses to deepen and solidify their relationships with customers and prospective customers. Big companies get this; so do some smaller ones. We’re seeing more and more of our clients take advantage of this free tool.
And that brings us back to Barry’s point. Perhaps the BEST way for businesses to use Facebook is the FREE way. We can also buy ads and Facebook’s targeting abilities are very, very good. We just ran a campaign for a client across multiple sites and Facebook outperformed them all, including Google. Of course, that’s just one campaign and one client. But we’ve noticed that all our Facebook ad campaigns are performing well.
So from a marketing perspective, Facebook offers us a number of ways to reach your customers effectively and affordably. To Barry’s point, though, they need to continue to offer innovative options that marketers will pay for, if they want to monetize their user base.