Facebook Hopes that Users ‘Want’ a Virtual Marketplace

by Matt Klassen on July 4, 2012

Although since its inception social networking has had no trouble grabbing the sustained attention of billions of people around the world, the one troubling issues for networks like Facebook has always been how to monetize this experience; how to make money off people connecting with people.

While it became evident throughout Facebook’s disastrous IPO several weeks ago that the company’s current revenue model is a shaky house of cards, there’s no question that it is Mark Zuckerberg’s number one priority to find sustainable ways to earn money off social networking, with the end goal to eventually turn Facebook into a catch-all ecommerce platform.

To that end, if rumours are true the first step towards expanding its ecommerce presence might be the development of a new sort of button for Facebook users, allowing all of us social networking drones to not only indicate things we ‘Like,’ but things we ‘Want’ as well.

Following Facebook’s IPO flop questions were immediately raised regarding Facebook’s advertising model and how it was actually connected to the company’s revenue stream. In short order it was discovered that although Facebook boasted almost 1 billion users, its actual regular user base was actually a quarter of that, with only a fraction of those actual users interacting with Facebook advertising.

How to get more people to connect with brands—thus giving more businesses incentive to pay Facebook for advertising—has long been a struggle for the social network, but the latest rumours that the company is developing a ‘Want’ button may go a long ways towards solving that disconnect between users and advertisers.

Several years ago when Facebook rolled out its now ubiquitous ‘Like’ button it immediately caught on, with users eager to let the world know things they considered to be interesting or noteworthy. Of course after awhile the button became so over-used that it was difficult to distinguish between something noteworthy and something, well, not, that it lost some of its lustre, but there’s no question it was, and certainly still is, very effective.

While the ‘Like’ button enabled users to tell friends about products and services they already have, the addition of a ‘Want’ button would fill a void within the social network, allowing users to now indicate items they want to purchase. Such a button, analysts suggest, would greatly assist Facebook in expanding its ecommerce presence, as Facebook and retail partners could use the information about products customers ‘Want’ to generate focused advertising that in turn, if everything works as planned, would lead to increased sales.

Although seemingly innocuous, the ‘Want’ button could actually be another one of those paradigm shifting additions to the social network, again if it’s done correctly. As I see it, on the one hand a ‘Want’ button could be the stepping stone for Facebook to enter the lucrative ecommerce market, rebranding itself as a virtual marketplace where retailers and consumers could meet and interact. Such a button would allow users to create universal wish lists for friends to see and help retailers understand what sorts of people are interested in their products.

On the other hand, of course, the ‘Want’ button could be a colossal failure, yet another intrusive addition to Facebook that users overuse and misuse, generating negative perceptions regarding certain products and ultimately making an investment in Facebook advertising simply a waste of money.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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