Because I had a lot of time to read last week (what with not sleeping and all), I got caught up on this month’s Fast Company.
The cover story is called “American Idol,” and it’s about Mark Zuckerberg and the pending IPO for Facebook.
Because of their IPO quiet period, Facebook did not comment. Rather the writers combined five years of interviews to put together 12 page story about the $28.4 billion CEO and the company he’s built.
Love him or hate him – or even love or hate Facebook – you have to admit he’s doing something right.
But what I found most interesting about the story was not how well Zuckerberg is doing in the CEO role (seemingly very well) or what he’s doing to protect his ownership as they go public, but what Fast Company thinks he will have to do to justify a $100 billion valuation.
And all of their ideas affect you.
- Share ads that look a lot like Facebook content. Currently called Sponsored Stories, we may see more and more paid for content hitting our news streams. But it will expand from just a quick note from the sponsors to providing social context. Which means if I like Amazon, and I buy from them right from my Facebook wall (see number three), it will appear in your stream because we’re friends. Facebook is collecting data about which stories we read, what we listen to, what we watch, and what we read to provide that data to advertisers. And, as I learned last week during Mitch Joel’s presentation at re:think, we should all be having sex with data.
- Turn desktop users into moving targets. I still don’t love the Facebook iPhone and iPad apps. To this point, they haven’t put a lot of money into developing them. But they also are commercial free. If we expect the apps to work as well, if not better than, the desktop version, we can also expect to begin to see ads (or pay for the app to not have them). And, because they have so much data about us – where we are, what we’re doing, who we’re with – they’ll be able to target specific ads to our needs. Scary…and cool.
- Sell more impulse buys with Facebook funny money. 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. That said, many big brands opened Facebook stores and then quickly shuttered them because no one was buying, but the article’s writers are predicting we’ll soon be buying music, shows, books, and gifts with the click of a Facebook like. A more powerful version of iTunes, if you will.
- Package insights from the data stream. Facebook will never sell your personal information, but 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.
- Stick to what they do well. We talk about this a lot here, particularly in the comments. But one of the things we see companies do wrong is trying to be all things to all people (Apple rumored to buy Twitter, Starbucks getting into beer and wine). Once you go public and have projections to meet, you start throwing things against the wall to see what will stick. Hopefully Facebook remembers what they do really well (not phones or search, for instance) and they stick with it.
I have to admit, watching all of this is really fascinating to me, both as a marketer and a business owner. How do you think their IPO will change the way you use Facebook?