From the poster boy of the Internet to just another Internet entrepreneur, this image doesn’t seem appropriate for Mark Zuckerberg to have in the History books of the future. It is this profound thought which led me to embark on a journey to conjure up visions of a grand Facebook comeback and suddenly the future of Facebook looked bright and shiny, all at once. And mark my words, Zuckerberg will save face and this is how.
My fundamental assumption is that Facebook is the virtual hangout place of people and hence, we need to identify ways by which we can keep people there and ensure that they keep coming back often. Till today, Facebook had been all about sharing opinions, thoughts, images and pictures, while trying to discover long lost friends and family. If you look at the list of things that I have just mentioned, they are all discretionary activities that one can live without doing and not lose much in life. Now, what Facebook needs to do is to move into the next level of human sustenance and create a ‘need’ for people to come back more often than earlier. How can that be achieved?
Facebook retail - your neighborhood retail store
Well, can Facebook hook up with your favourite retailer and offer you the luxury of helping you buy their products through the Facebook store? This example suggests that Facebook needs to think of ways in which it can become a mega market and a one-stop-shop for buying products. This leads one to the inevitable question – should Facebook become the social Amazon? Should they invest in opening warehouses and start shipping products to customers? Or should they tie up with brick and mortar retailers and become their online channel? Consumers can then get ‘Facebook Club-card mailers’ from Tesco, for example, instead of a physical copy of the same. Tesco will benefit in multiple ways – the least of which is to have access to non-Tesco consumers who may now start shopping at Tesco through Facebook.
Facebook worldwide education program
Can Facebook, provide young students with access to virtual classrooms, where teachers conduct courses and a new era of standardised worldwide curriculum are followed and children are able to attend these classrooms sitting at their homes? Facebook recommended curriculum, Facebook exams, Facebook semesters and finally, a Facebook degree! There would be a Facebook campus placement from where students can be placed anywhere in the world – a truly global economy!
Can Facebook create an alternative form of mass media entertainment replacing the monopoly of conventional television? There is plenty of scope for alternate news channels to come up, alternate movie channels to be aired on the Internet, alternate sports channels, food channels, discovery channels, travel channels and kids entertainment channels – the USP of all these Facebook channels would be that dedicated advertisements need not be aired by disrupting viewership time. Each program will be sponsored by one advertiser and they will be woven into each program creatively without disrupting the program. This will usher in a huge revolution and create employment opportunities on a grand scale and destroy the monopoly of modern day television media. There will be talented news readers, journalists, actors, television anchors, chat show hosts and movie directors who will get a chance to display their talents and earn money. More importantly, the insane amount of money spent on advertising will be distributed through the entire supply chain and restore balance in the world economy. There are hundreds of talented people in each of these areas who do not get a chance in the television-based entertainment industry. Through Facebook TV, they will get a chance to break into the world of television.
Move over Skype and traditional carriers which provide mobile and telephone networks, for Facebook will usher in a new world of Internet telephony and all free of cost. The commercial model will be that after each free call, you will be forced to watch a small advertorial for a few seconds before you can make the next call. If you don’t want to see the advertisement, pay a small charge for the call.
In conclusion, along the lines of what Google provided as a one-stop solution for searching anything on the Internet, Facebook can become the next one-stop solution for doing everything else on the net (other than online search).
This blog has been published in the SmartCEO Magazine and reflects Snehamoy’s personal views