March 31, 2011
Facebook just hired Mark D’Arcy to work on creative advertising solutions for partners. Boy is he needed. This is my open letter to him and what I wish Facebook would do the coming years, starting with today.
I know it might be a lot to ask of a person who has just started at Facebook, but seriously, I think you just hit the jackpot in terms of jobs. I jealous, almost to the point of envious of your situation. I am a soulful dude though and so I really want to be of help, if I can.
There are a lot of things missing with regard to revenue streams on Facebook. This is my take on some of the additions Facebook should look into.
#1. Real social shopping
I have previously written by social shopping and how it could be implemented on Facebook. To that collaborative solution I would like to add a ranking. Some sort of toplist based on likes that would help the users select their products on the basis of other things than price. Those things might be likes, reviews, connections and degrees of separation and time to consumption meaning how long it would take for the product to become available for consumption to the person who wants to purchase it.
Facebook can do this as you own all the data needed to support it. Except for perhaps retail prices. However, the thought of shopping collectively gives a strong enough incentive for business to offer that parameter to the Facebook framework. This would not only increase basket value, but it would also give Facebook a reason to charge based on that value.
Shopping is really all about a co-ordination problem between demand and supply. Facebook has the ability to solve many instances of these co-ordination problems. By making it easier to shop online, more people would do so, and thus it would be more profitable for companies.
Think of it this way. There is always a super-person – a worker – in each group or sub-group. This worker performs tasks for the rest of the group that they later enjoy collectively today. By enabling and making it easier for the worker to actually do their work in the group social structure, you will make them switch technology from phone to let’s say – web. Facebook groups and events show this clearly. You have one person with an idea and the strength to do something about it, they create a movement and their friends come join the party.
In the case of social shopping, think of it as a collaborative effort, much like GroupOn. On Facebook this would work in two directions. First you would create a functionality for the workers where they can create a proposition. This proposition might be “Buy a bike” or more logically for this thought experiment “Buy a trip to Mallorca on the dates 4th to 15th January”. They can then invite all their friends. Different companies can then bit for different levels of engagement. For each user that joins, the price goes down as you solve sales co-ordination costs for the sales agents. At the same time, influential people, or just the worker of a group of 4 families does not have to make the big payment and then ask the rest for the cash which is a common problem in today’s real world of buying trips for groups.
Each and everyone buys in with their own wallet. Even people not going to the location with you can join your group until you reach a marginal revenue of the last bidder that is the lowest they can take for that volume.
For the travel industry, and many other industries, this would be awesome as upsales could be co-ordinated to a group that had already begun socializing. Naturally, the creator of the group would get their trip for free after a certain amount of paying participants.
Inverted, you can do this for birthdays. If a person has a birthday, they can create their Facebook wish list. Companies can list their products under each category or product type in the wish list. Friends can then buy in with a small stake and the person can then see more products become available as the money pile grows.
There are a million applications to this, but that is that for social shopping. Facebook would earn a cut out of every transaction to the system, much like the credit cards deal with their stuff today. In the future Facebook could probably charge for larger agent accounts and pay influential people to attract business through the Facebook platform.
#2. Application Store
Please setup an application store. This will both increase the quality of applications as well as create business for Facebook. It worked for Apple… hehe… You could however do it with an Amazon twist where you show people how many degrees of separation they are from someone using the application, or even how far away they are from the developers. You could include ratings from friends only, or ratings from people with simliar interests as you.
Purchasing applications on Facebook will be a lot more fun than buying apps for the iPhone. It will be a collective effort with easy sharing capabilities. Launch campaigns of new apps can be setup like treasure hunts where people who are first to find and share an app release x amount of Facebook credits. Naturally you can integrate this into the advertising program. Easy product to buy, functional and great product to use. The Facebook way in other words.
#3. Enhanced photo album & public profile
I know you might not want to go here, but there is a big business in giving people cool tools for their portfolio. I wish that we could see this functionality on LinkedIn, but for professionals it would be great to just see it somewhere. CEO’s and important people that are afraid of sharing their stuff should rather than limit access, be given the possibility to pay a micro sum every month in order to be able to pimp their outside look of their profile.
I’m thinking carousel photo albums, nice video displays, easy integration to websites, enhanced resume with logo-injections for companies listed in the company directory of Facebook (yeah.. you should put something on the platform and charge companies to claim their business).
Ie. you should give people the possibility to have a public, professional profile, and one they use when collaborating and chatting with their friends.
All in all
I want to welcome you to Facebook and hope you create great stuff for us concept developers, viral marketers and most importantly users of Facebook.