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Facebook is Taking over the World and 5 Things Brands can do about it

April 1, 2015

Not everyone thought Facebook would make a smooth transition into the mobile world, but boy have they done it and with a degree of dominance that couldn’t have been predicted.

Facebook’s mobile advertising now costs seven times more than average. The reason is data; Facebook knows so much about its users that advertisers can precisely target their advertising, hence the nice premium.

Instead of resting on its laurels, Zuckerberg and his lieutenants are looking to capitalize and seize the initiative with the next big thing- messaging.

At last week’s F8 developer’s conference, the company launched Messenger as platform (it already has 500m users, it’s the platform idea that’s new); meaning that other things could be built into it and upon it. Like we’ve seen with Asia’s Line and We Chat, everything is in the messaging app- you can pay, book hotels, etc. Facebook’s Messenger already lets users send and receive money, has text messages that turn into songs, let’s users animate “selfie” photos and they will shortly be able to track online purchases and packages.

Facebook obviously saw the potential of this a while back, we all gasped at the astonishing purchase of What’s App for $19billion (a service that handled 7 trillion messages last year- 1000 for every person on the planet), but this new Messenger platform takes the Facebook media brand to the next level. It’s operating a very smart strategy by trying to stay ahead and anticipate the future as best it can.

Facebook is obviously too paranoid to sleep, it has to keep one wary eye open and be ready to swoop to take in any major competitor that threatens it. Because of its vast intelligence network, it can see these threats before they become real threats, just as did with Instagram.

Of course, it’s not possible to capture everything-witness the rise in the past few weeks of Meerkat  (now dead!) and Periscope, but Facebook could be planning to add this feature to a brand they own, Instagram.

Simply put, Facebook wants to do everything in its power to remain the dominant destination.

Even with Messenger, the idea is to give other apps access to Facebook’s masssive audience just by sending out a “sticker-like” coupon, even if the app isn’t installed on the user’s phone, but the price to pay is that Facebook owns the user. For the apps that don’t play, they have to compete with the whole of Facebook’s app store. This gives them a “lock” on the market, because it’s trying to make it impossible for app makers to develop an audience with them.

From a user perspective, Facebook knows they demand convenience and the “switching costs” to leave their network are prohibitively high, they just need to keep them happy by delivering both the platforms and content the audience wants.

“Facebook is gradually positioning itself to become the data, media-consumption and sharing backbone for the entire digital media industry.”

Digiday

“When you really look at what the company is trying to do, it becomes evident that its goal is not expanded convenience within a Facebook ecosystem but outright colonization of the entire online and mobile experience.”

Dell Cameron

When it comes to content, we saw the dominance of Facebook at SXSW when Buzzfeed’s CEO Jonah Peretti shared some data on how Buzzfeed’s content is shared out in the social space.

Buzzfeed gets six times as many referrals from Facebook than it does from its second most important platform, but it’s the volume of impressions that Facebook generates for Buzzfeed that’s staggering, with over 11 billion impressions per month, compared to half that number from Pinterest.

Facebook now recognizes the time is right to strike a deal with publishers and get them to put their content on the site. They are working on a test to try and bring half a dozen publishers on board to put content directly into the newsfeed. Facebook would sell advertising and share the revenue with the pubs. The New York Times is talking about an impending deal, but they want to ensure that they won’t lose any of their valuable digital subscribers who might drop subscriptions, if they find too much free content available on Facebook. The other concern for the publishers is how much data Facebook is willing to share with them?

For those sucked into its orbit, have little choice if they want to play at scale and that includes the publishers who need to find ways of attracting paying audiences for their content.

With Messenger, Facebook is placing a bet on the future, it’s anticipating consumers will, like many do in Asia, will want to do multiple tasks inside a messaging environment, that it becomes their own personal dashboard that they never have to leave. That stickiness is exactly what Facebook wants, it wants to be the only game in town, so it can monetize its users.

The question is who is going to stand up to Facebook from a competitive perspective, or do the competitors believe that users will simply get sick of the service platform and move elsewhere?

Messenger is obviously part of a bigger strategy to keep the younger user, but across the internet and even in government there are rumbles of dissatisfaction with the company’s monopolistic position, but more than that, there’s an emerging concern amongst consumers that a live lived on Facebook is not a life that people want to live and that might be one problem that can be solved by any or all of Facebook’s brilliant minds.

So what 5 things should brands do now in a world of Facebook dominance?

  1. Understand Messenger-who is using it- how are they using it? See how you can integrate their content and messaging within it-Business Insider has just talked to some Millennials to get their take and the response is mixed, but there’s obviously an opportunity to go much deeper than BI!
  2. Understand what media partners/publishers plan to do with Facebook and their content
  3. Examine the range of alternatives to Facebook- what work for what, when e.g. Twitter is good for certain things like seeding a story with influencers
  4. Understand their consumers relationship with Facebook- is it still highly relevant- what matters to them and why? What are some of the negatives about Facebook usage right now
  5. Ensure the content you place on Facebook is constantly engaging. Like Buzzfeed- you might be getting the views, but are you getting the engagem

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