The one thing Facebook has not figured out yet is how to utilize their fabulous product to make the most money, consistently and on an ongoing basis – i.e. finding the right business model. A really intriguing topic to write my very first blog about, because, in my opinion, finding the right business model for Facebook cannot be accomplished using conventional thinking, like, solely looking at Google and their search engine ad revenue, for example. Facebook is unique, so you need to find unique solutions. Actually, there is not one single best business model for this site, rather a multitude of potential revenue streams from very different sources. It is not only “how do we generate revenue”, but equally important “when do we start with which one”. This might sound strange now, but it will get clear, when reading this. Summarized, it is basically taking your assets and what made you successful in the first place and finding new ways to use them effectively.
Business Network / Business Profile
I thinking about this since beginning of February. Wouldn’t it be great, if you’d only need to login once and have your private and professional network in one view, although strictly separated from each other, depending on your settings? Wouldn’t it also be great for companies to have a business network with about 7 times more users than LinkedIn, that can offer people having every kind of skills and experience imaginable as well as offering any kind of services and products among their 500 million users? Wouldn’t it be great for Facebook to be able to get into companies blocking the site so far, generating new streams of ad and other revenue from recruitment companies and others? But most importantly, Business Network market leaders LinkedIn and Xing charge their users, meaning Facebook would have an absolute legitimate case to do so as well for their business network users. This means, that the crucial, and psychological, hurdle of charging end-users can be overcome via a sideway, so to speak, without having to expect a massive backlash or a mass exodus of users. Of course, they can only start to charge the active business network users, but when the door is open once…needless to say, this has the highest potential impact on the bottom line of Facebook.
All this would happen, if Facebook offered a Business Network, too. This is not even a huge undertaking for them really, just leveraging their existing functionality.
It can be set-up rather easily via automatic transfer of the existing (fitting) data of the user profiles into their new professional profiles, giving the users the choice to opt-in into this service and let them enter more business-related data to be able to activate their professional profile (which also means more key data available within Facebook). The professional profile can be, e.g. on a separate tab right next to the private one or just as another wall and info page next to the main profile, allowing for it to be within the Facebook site, but with the possibility to completely block the private section, when accessed from certain locations, while also allowing the user to keep both profiles and their connections separated via respective privacy settings. To grow rapidly, at least initially the service should be offered for free. Ads can be displayed to help offset part of the launching and initial running costs. Existing Facebook functionality should be incorporated, examples are, the news feed with real-time updates, posting pictures (e.g. from corporate events), the Like button, the option to easily post relevant news, etc., enabling the user to do the same things they like to do on the social network also in a business environment and in a simple and already known way. This would make the Facebook Business Network that much more alive than the mostly AvaTrade Facebook Page static existing ones, allowing users to be active or passive, enjoying ever-changing new content, keeping them on the site, just like it’s happening on the current social network. At the same time, the previously mentioned benefits for Facebook are enormous, while the development time and costs for this are comparatively small as already proven and existing layout and functionality can be used. In my opinion, if set up properly, the other existing professional networks will be marginalized within about 9-12 months after the launch (depending on the roll-out plan), just like the other existing social networks.
In short, just take what successfully works, put it in a business context and reap the huge rewards.
A job market, integrated with the business net as well as the rest of the site could be the next step. Same procedure as above, at the push of a button, the relevant data from the other profiles, private and professional gets transferred to a job search profile(again, if agreed to by the user) and additional data is added by the users to fill out the respective profile, alternatively, if a business network already exists the professional profile can also act as the job search profile, saving the users valuable time and enabling them to easily get out on the job market, without needing to fill out a long new form, updating their CVs, etc.. The first option, a new profile, would enable Facebook to gather more data and place more ads; the second one keeps the number of profiles from expanding, meaning less complexity and maintenance. Why Monster.com – Facebook has the equivalent of the third largest country in the world as talent base, available at the push of a button. This enables Facebook to pretty quickly become a major player selling job ads and e.g. earning additional money from HR companies for special search functions, etc. and also generating more ad money with the existing ads on the side of the screen.