It’s been an interesting few days in the social media/tech world.
Facebook went public, began trading at $42.05 (and then dropped to it’s original $38) per share, and it’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg got married in a surprise wedding that was supposed to be a celebration of his now wife’s graduation from medical school.
Named the 29th richest man in America, Zuckerberg now shares that fortune with the woman who has been by his side since college.
But both his personal and work lives have simultaneously gotten harder (remember your first year of marriage??). While maintaining majority ownership in the social network, the 28-year-old (and I thought I was hot stuff at 28!) must now answer to Wall Street, which means the $1 billion they made in profit last year must increase.
Just a few days after GM announced they’ve dropped their Facebook advertising (and Super Bowl advertising too, it seems), the social network must pull itself together and begin offering even more to users and advertisers (which means more changes…don’t freak out) or it will end up going the way of AOL, Netscape, and MySpace.
- Mobile. My own speculation on the Instagram purchase last month is not because Zuckerberg thinks the app cool (it is), but because the team there has figured out mobile; something that has escaped Facebook developers. Rather than invest a bunch of time and money into creating a mobile app that works well for its users, why not buy one that already has 25 million users? It gets them closer to the one billion user mark they’re striving toward and it allows them to incorporate the picture-sharing mobile app.
- Search. I’m not talking about competing with Google. Let Google own search; it’s the one thing they do really well. I’m talking about social search. When Facebook introduced search in the groups, I was singing hallelujah because it is now easier to find conversations for blog writing, content creation, or even just proving someone wrong. What would be really great is if they create a search for our own pages, to start. And then move it to making it possible to search, based on your own personal network. Google and Bing already do this with your online experience. Let’s hope Facebook catches on, too.
- Sponsored Stories. This is one of Martin Waxman’s favorite Facebook money-making tools. While we all intuitively know sponsored stories are highlighted by our friends because a company has paid us to do so, he believes we’ll make purchase decisions if we see multiple friends talking about the same product or service. I agree.
- Big Data. With nearly a billion users around the globe, think about the insights they have regarding what we like, how long we watch videos, what TV programs are popular, and how long we stay on certain sites. If they package those insights into something more valuable than what they provide now, marketers will feel like they hit the jackpot. It’s a huge growth opportunity for them, without a lot of effort.
- Impulse Buying. Right now you can buy more fruit for your Farmville farm with Facebook credits, but we can expect this will expand to include pretty much anything we want to buy. Many big brands opened Facebook stores and then quickly shuttered them because no one was buying, but I expect this will change. We’ll soon be buying music, shows, books, gifts, and even consumables with the click of a Facebook like. A more powerful version of iTunes, if you will.
Where else do you think Facebook must grow in order to make money, keep users happy, and satisfy Wall Street?