Darwin would be proud of Facebook as the company definitely supports evolution. The platform that began as a way to connect college students in a private school-based social network, is becoming the world’s top hub for accessing internet content. If their latest announcements are any indication, the company wants their social network to become the internet. With a user-base that encompasses 20% of the world’s population (1.4 billion), Facebook’s ambitions may be more realistic than you would think.
This week has been Facebook’s annual developers conference: F8, and many new announcements have been made regarding the future of the platform:
Apps for Facebook Messenger
One of the hassles when communicating on a smartphone is anytime you have to pull in information from another app. It requires an app switch, a cumbersome copy and paste, another app switch, a paste, and a send; way too many steps! Facebook’s new messenger feature is looking to change all of that.
Now, developers can add a button to their app that lets them quickly and easily send off information to a friend from the app. Zuck demonstrated the feature by sending a GIF from Jib Jab. Sending a picture/quote/anything is literally a button-tap away. I presume that this will soon be re-named Facebook’s “Easy Button.” The service will start with a small list of 40 supported apps and will grow over time.
Business on Messenger
Another feature that was demonstrated at F8 is a feature that enables businesses to interface with their customers from right within Facebook Messenger. Many larger companies already have social media support teams that constantly monitor what is being said about their company to address customer issues and maintain their online reputation. Now using Facebook Messenger, customers can digitally approach a business for actions such as support issues, checking in on a shipment, or virtually anything else that requires direct communication.
Zuckerberg has high hopes for the Messenger App. Per CBS Local, Zuckerberg stated the following:
As messenger has grown, we think that this service has the potential to help people express themselves in new ways, to connect hundreds of millions of new people, and to become a really important communications tool for the world.
This comes only a week after Facebook announced their new mobile payment service through Messenger. It seems that Facebook wants to become the primary means of digital communication between friends and businesses alike. (Watch out Skype, video chat is coming next. Mark my words!)
News in Facebook
Facebook’s next step is to take one of the other most common uses of the internet, reading the news, and allow users to view it from within Facebook. The company is experimenting with the idea of news sites actually hosting their news articles within Facebook as opposed to just posting links to it.
According to the New York Times, for months Facebook has been in discussion with major media outlets on the viability of such a platform. The company will reportedly begin testing the service within the next couple months with a few big name players, namely “The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and National Geographic.”
It will be interesting to see if this initiative takes off, as well as what incentives Facebook will offer these media outlets. Typically, a news company makes the majority of their revenue through sponsorships and advertising. By taking a user away from their site, the publisher will lose control over how they are able to get exposure to their sponsors. Additionally, Facebook will likely have their own advertising within the mix that would also reduce media outlets’ revenue opportunities.
Facebook has stated that they will allow publishers to run their own advertising along with the content hosted within Facebook, however, the company has a tendency of changing the rules of using their platform as a business. Case in point, Facebook used to be a very viable platform for businesses to get free exposure to their followers. After a drastic change to their Newsfeed algorithm early this year, businesses are now practically required to pay Facebook if they want their posts to be visible within their followers’ Newsfeeds. This is despite their followers having indicated interest in receiving updates by clicking the “Like” or “Follow” buttons.
While the above change is certainly a smart move for Facebook from a strategic revenue perspective, this has created a perception of instability for businesses. Facebook may give publishers the options for their own advertising today, however the company could potentially phase that out, or make other changes that impact media companies’ revenue opportunities. To become a serious platform for media outlets, Facebook is going to need to write up some in-depth contracts to ensure that such drastic changes will not negatively affect the business’s projected revenue.
Facebook becoming The Internet?
As Facebook grows and enters into new faucets of interaction, it seems that Facebook has one goal: to take over the internet. Users will no longer need to leave the platform to contact a business, send money to a friend, or even view the latest news headlines. Additionally, Facebook for Business could become the internal communication platform of choice for many corporations. Could the Facebook app be the one app we need to keep installed on our phones? We definitely have a long ways to go before we get to that point, but with Facebook’s recent developments, it appears that is the direction that the company would like to be heading.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.