For a site that was started in a college dorm room as a way for students to interact, Facebook is doing pretty well for itself. The social network is easily the largest of its kind, surpassing 1 trillion page views in June alone. Conversation has run rampant about the site’s growing features and how the social network will fare against Twitter and Google Plus. But amidst all of the talk of privacy issues and social media warfare, a transformation has been brewing within the company as it slowly seeps further into our everyday life (something I didn’t think was even possible).
It was announced this week that Facebook is planning for 20 purchases this year, of which they’ve already made 13. So far, we’ve seen Facebook begin to stretch their reign with the acquisition of group messaging platform Beluga and iPad book publisher Push Pop Press, among others. Those purchases are already impacting the way the social media network is being used.
If you’ve heard the complaint about Facebook’s privacy once, you’ve heard it 100 times. It’s been a big gripe of Facebook users, though not a dissuading one for many. The biggest change we’ve seen lately is Facebook working to quash those complaints with a revamp in privacy and sharing settings (finally). The changes have broken sharing down into “friends” and “everyone” to simplify the process. This, no doubt, has some relation to praise of how information is shared on Twitter and Google Plus.
But Facebook is stepping up its game in this arena. Aside from a change in settings, the acquisition of e-book publisher Push Pop Press is likely going to enhance the way information is shared within Facebook. In addition, Facebook has recently been named the number three video site in the United States, quite a feat considering that video is just one of many minor features that Facebook offers.
Branding and Promotion
This improved information sharing goes beyond user to user. The brand experiences being created have certainly exceeded expectations. Companies can go beyond contests and engagement and offer their product directly to users from their Facebook page. Facebook for Businesses was just the beginning in making it easier for brands to experiment on their Facebook pages.
Film company Miramax now has an app called ‘eXperience’ that allows for movie streaming within Facebook and is paid for with Facebook credits. Movies are commercial-free and streamed via the Facebook app. Movies are going for 30 credits, or about $3. In addition, fans of the page can view free clips.
Just a step beyond that, clothing company Gilt offers discounted product from luxury brands via a full e-commerce experience on their Facebook page. Fans are able to buy products early and, sometimes, exclusively through Facebook.
We’re Going Mobile
Not surprisingly, the innovation and new experiences are not limited to the desktop. Despite an overly complex and often lagging mobile application (at least for iPhone), Facebook is compensating with new features. Recently, the company built a new Facebook messaging app with a foundation in Beluga. Early reports suggested that this was a competitor for SMS services and the upcoming iMessage for iPhone. The convenience of utilizing the built in Facebook network rather than needing a phone number is appealing. In addition, the app easily allows for group messaging across different platforms and devices.
In addition, Facebook announced this week that photo filters would be coming to the mobile apps. The feature to add filters to photos has made InstaGram and other photo applications extremely successful. The company already has 12 filters, but Zuckerburg is reportedly holding out for more before the feature is released. After all, if you’re gonna dominate the info sharing game, you might as well do it right.