Facebook is a hub of consumers before all else. Yes, this consumption is primarily user generated content. What this content references, though, often plugs into purchasable goods. The only inconvenience? Leaving Facebook, or whatever other social media site, and actually ordering said good or service…at least for now.
Resultantly, Facebook’s newest features target the gap between shares/references and services/goods. Its effect on developing businesses can be profound -but probably not in a good way.
Say Hello to the New Facebook Features
Something is always afoot at Facebook. The social media site has changed a lot since its launch in 2004 -markets, notes, chat, etc. Today it unveiled a slew of new features that build upon these foundations, not to mention their profit margins.
The newly updated Facebook Pages is more dynamic than ever. Users can order food, event tickets, book appointments, and more without ever going to a different site. Of course, said ordering will be through Delivery.com, Slice, EverBrite, Ticketmaster, MyTime, etc. AKA, established services that pay Facebook for the presence.
Smaller services, meanwhile, enjoy a smaller boost. Facebook is also introducing a Recommendations feature. This creates a prominent status update for friends to make, you guessed it, suggestions for whatever. There is also the option to bookmark suggestions and automatically locate them on a map. Word-of-mouth just got a little more convenient, to say the least.
Links, Portals, and Shares -Oh My!
So both small and large services may benefit. The entrenchment of larger options, however, is huge. Facebook’s holistic direction significantly expands Slice’s, EverBrite’s, et al’s prospective conversion rates. It effectively disrupts the hierarchical ratings of Google, Yahoo, or other search engines that list options based off relevance or visitation.
Instead, Facebook users will only have the options that Facebook includes. Will these expand? Probably…but not to the level of a search engine. Effectively, Facebook is helping foremost services narrow prospects’ options.
The Recommendations feature, though useful, is also paltry compared to the additions on Facebook Pages. Brick and mortar establishments stand to benefit, sure. Online services? Not as much…especially if an alternative to a service hardwired with Facebook Pages.
Where this Leaves Discovery and Competition
Word of mouth is the major strength of social media. However, it is also subject to location. Google includes geography as an advanced search option, sure. However, it is also a catalyst for discovering new options.
Do not misunderstand -just about any page in the top 10 search results has its share of frequenters. However, Google search queries are not subject to the same limitations as social media. Instead, such rankings derive from overall relevance and visitation. They present dynamic options. Facebook’s new additions, meanwhile, are static. They do not change based off demand or present an alternative. Instead, they exclusively cater to the best established, and most recognizable, options available. Competition, and therefore upsets, go out the window.
Picture courtesy of Mark Robinson via Creative Commons