Everyone was excited about the Facebook IPO. Apart from creating billionaires, the IPO set a precedent for success in the Social Media industry. The stock markets are still watching. Analysts are keeping their fingers crossed.
The most important question is: Will Facebook sustain the hype of the pre-IPO days? Or, will it crumble and fade away like the Dot Com companies of the late 90s? Dot Com companies with skyrocketing valuations relied solely on advertising revenue. Facebook is walking the same path. Apart from advertising, there are no value added services that users will really pay for. An advertising revenue model is weak. A shocking proof is, General Motors has already decided to stop advertising on Facebook.
What can Facebook do to live on forever? Innovate. What are the features that will take Facebook to the next level? Here are some features that Facebook could implement to generate revenue and not rely solely on advertising:
- Acquire Skype (or another VOIP provider): Imagine being able to call or even make a video call to your friends across the world right from Facebook. Users would readily pay for such a service if it included calling phones as well.
- Transfer Money: How many times did you have to return cash to your friend? Facebook could tie-up with banks to allow users to transfer money between each other with just a click. This seamless transfer of money is extremely useful to the end-user and will also lead to revenue for Facebook.
- Facebook Email: Facebook email that allows users to send an email to all email providers will be extremely useful. Therefore, users don’t really have to maintain a Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail account in addition to a Facebook account. Email could be a premium service.
- Facebook Dashboard: Instead of just displaying useless ads that a user is never going to click, part of the real estate can be used to display articles from selected websites, news, weather, stocks etc. Users will automatically be hooked on to such a dashboard. This could be a premium service as well.
- Facebook Blog: A Facebook blog for each user (or business) will be of great value. This will bring the users to Facebook more often. Advanced blogging features can be made available for a fee.
And, here are some futuristic ideas that can generate revenue for Facebook:
- Track Criminals: Facebook could easily provide paid access to law enforcement agencies to track criminals. Analyzing data from known associates’ updates could help track and capture criminals across the world.
- Predict and Prevent crime: Facebook can actually build a Pre-crime division (like the movie Minority Report). For example, the Union Pacific Railroad Company is already using predictive technology to predict and prevent accidents. Similarly, predictive technology can be used by Facebook to analyze users’ posts and updates to prevent crime before it is committed. Predictive technology could also be used to prevent threats to national security.
And here’s the biggest threat to users that Facebook must address – Malware and Virus! Without Advanced Threat Protection or Reboot-to-Restore technology, users could end up spending a lot of money to fix their computers infected through Facebook.
Let’s see what the future holds for Facebook and its users. If you have invested in the Facebook IPO, only time will tell if you become a millionaire, or if you will one day wish you had never invested in the IPO.