Facebook’s First Premium Feature: Profile Wiki’s

There has been a lot of talk about what Facebook should do next to boost revenue.  Recently Biz Stone mentioned something called “Facebook Premium” and suggested to lose the ads and “maybe some special features” to collect $10 per month.

His idea is just skipping the surface of the water.  Although it did get me thinking…  What type of feature would entice users to pay for it?

I propose Profile Wikis.

I know what you’re thinking, they already have Facebook Timeline. Yes, but that is automatically generated in chronological order.  It’s a great free feature to have, but this builds upon that and could be called something like Facebook Stories.

Of course Facebook may have to think of a better name for this, but essentially it would work very similar to how Wikipedia functions with a Facebook twist.

Let’s say I enable my Wiki page. My friends get a notice that it has been enabled and they are free to apply for editor access if they wish.  These approved friends would be allowed to use any of my posted photos, videos, location check-ins, or status updates.

I would have to elect a moderator to approve new edit changes or additions.  The wiki page can be set to public, private, or friends only.

The entire Wiki is open ended with no set structure.  The best part is that I have no say in what gets written.  It is entirely created and approved by my friends, so it is extremely important who I approve.  I would get notified of any changes or edits and they could be posted on my timeline if I so choose.

If my friends decide to highlight and approve my addiction with Farmville, then so be it. 

I think the Wiki feature itself would be extremely addicting to Facebook users both young and old.  Younger kids will fight to gain editor or moderator status.  Those of us connecting with old friends can easily catch up to see what we missed.  It would also be a great way to remember a friend or loved one who has passed away.

The approval and writing process has to be super clean and slick.  

It could be part GitHub and part Wikipedia.  Merge the “Wedding” wiki with the “master” wiki once it’s ready for primetime. (Of course Facebook wouldn’t use that type of language, but you get the idea)  Create a mockup layout with sections that need to be assigned to specific friends to take on.  Who’s in charge of the section on senior year of college?

See a graph of contributions detailing various parts of the Wiki so users get credit they are due. For example, Sally wrote 70% of the wedding section.

The reading experience has to be cutting edge and interactive, perhaps a take on this Rolling Stone article.  Let the reader get immersed in the Wiki.  Responsive layout for all devices and easily readable. Order a hardcover book if you’d like.

Once this platform is mature, Facebook could even release this software on its own to make collaborative writing an easier process for newspapers and magazines.  The possibilities are endless.

This is just ONE feature that Facebook could create under their “Facebook Premium” program.

 

My Thoughts on Facebook as a Public Company

The past two weeks have been filled with opinions from experts on Facebook and its IPO.  I would say about 66% lean towards the negative side and say to avoid them at all costs.  Why?  Because GM pulled their ads.  Because a survey said 40% of their users will never click on an ad.  Because experts on TV, who don’t even understand the web, feel that they are overvalued.

I’m not an expert when it comes to stocks or IPOs.  I’m not going to write about P/E ratios, shares outstanding, or their market cap.  I am going to write about their product and its influence over the web.

Pages Per Visit & Reach

Facebook has roughly the same amount of pageviews as Google per day according to Alexa.  They are the 2nd most visited website on the web, just behind Google.

According to Alexa, Facebook is estimated to have 12.24 pages/visit .  For comparison, Reddit is listed as having 10.6 pages/visit.  So how accurate is this metric?  Reddit’s blog post from January shows 13.00 pages/visit.

This means that Alexa likely undervalues by almost 2.5 pages/visit and Facebook could be closer to 15 pages/visit.  As someone who runs a website and is a web developer, I assure you that 15 pages per visit is absolutely insanely good.  Their users are addicted and love Facebook. Few sites or companies can pull off these kind of metrics.

Social is a Fad

Many experts believe that social media is a fad and/or Facebook could easily be replaced.  I strongly disagree.  Remember when web portals were going to be a thing of the past?

Yes, its true that Facebook is not the first social website.  Friendster and MySpace came way before Facebook.  Unfortunately, their websites lacked innovation and sophistication that their user base was desperately craving.  Facebook forced the social platform to grow up and users graduated from MySpace/Friendster to Facebook.

Keep in mind that when you see commercials, Facebook and Twitter pages are often shown.  Facebook does not pay these companies for the advertising.  They are actually WILLING to showcase these two social networks because that is how important they are to advertising and reaching your customer base.

Today social websites are as important to the web as search engines.  Speaking of search engines…

Google

If Google has taught us anything, it’s that being the first to the market means nothing.  It’s about who innovates and pushes the platform to the next level.  Facebook did that with social and Google did that with search.  Altavista = Friendster.  Excite = MySpace.

The experts did not believe in Google when it IPO’d either:

To see a market capitalization valuing Google as a mature company is assuming a best-case scenario which isn’t a for-sure outcome. It still has a long way to go to justify growing into that kind of market value,” said Michael Cohen, director of research with Pacific American Securities.

Cohen added that in addition to Yahoo!, Google will face increased pressure from Microsoft, which has been stepping up its research and development efforts in its MSN Internet business.

Potential Growth

Does anyone realize how Google makes money?  They make most of their revenue from advertisements.  Guess what other companies makes most of their revenue from advertisements?  Facebook.  Some of my points here piggyback Venture Beat’s awesome article.

Charts here show revenue growth compared to similar IPOs.  Their opinion is that Year over Year growth is going down, not up.  This is obviously a bad sign, however the graph also indicates that Zynga’s growth year over year is better than Facebook.  It’s amazing what you can make a graph do.  That tells me absolutely nothing because Zynga would not exist without Facebook.  Meanwhile LinkedIn has perhaps 1/10th the amount of pageviews of Facebook.  So how much weight should we really put behind something like this?

The truth is that Facebook’s growth potential is insanely high.  They haven’t entered China and their mobile platform is still in its infancy.  Facebook realizes this and already is taking courses of action to correct this, namely by buying Instagram.

Their current revenue numbers could change drastically once they figure out mobile and their platform continues to mature.

Conclusion

What I wrote about here are taken from a web developer perspective.  I honestly don’t care about an investor’s expert opinion when he may have a hard time understanding the product.  He is looking at the revenue numbers and makes a judgement compared to the industry giants.  What he sees on paper simply doesn’t add up to the hype or the valuation.  That is completely understandable.  Software and the scope of the web is not a tangible thing that people can easily wrap their head around.

As I said, I am not a stock expert. I don’t dwell on P/E ratios or shares outstanding.  I don’t know what their stock is going to be at in 6 or 12 months, but I do know that Facebook, as a product, will be as popular as ever.  And that, by itself, has to be worth something on the open market.

 

 

My Thoughts on Facebook Instagram Backlash

Before I get to my specific opinion, let me voice my opinion of the two companies as separate entities.  Facebook, by itself is a fine service for the average Joe.  I personally don’t use Facebook because I think it’s a waste of my time. Instagram is similar to Facebook, and it pretty much invented the sharing photos game in the mobile space.  They are also popular for their over-the-top styling of photos that makes anyone think they have talent.

So in summary, both services are fine but not for me.  Clearly Facebook is lacking in the mobile department and Instagram is meant for mobile with no desktop penetration.  Sounds like a good fit to me?  Facebook’s mobile app might turn into something pretty awesome after this.  Instagram are going to have a lot more users in their grasp and probably have a vision where they want to take the company.  Being acquired by Facebook was an offer they could not refuse and it’s shocking to see some of these comments:

 

 

And finally:

One of my personal favorites is a story entitled: “Apple should have acquired Instagram” saying:

I would more likely wanted Apple to acquire Instagram. Apple actually needed Instagram much more than Facebook and Google. With a few Apple’s failed attempts to go social(remember Ping), that could actually worked. Instagram has 29M iPhone users. Most of them are very engaged with the application. The combination of Photo Stream + Instagram could be super powerful. I can see myself using it(a lot). Also, by purchasing Instagram Apple could have keept it iOS-only. That would be much appreciated by current iPhone users and for some people might be a reason to switch to iPhone.

Yes, that’s just what we need.  Apple to acquire Instagram, convert it to a pay only app. Charge $2.99 for the iPhone version and $9.99 for the iPad enhanced version. Perhaps throw in a subscription in there someplace for cloud syncing.  Not to mention keep it iOS only because that sounds pretty exclusive and cool.

My brain might explode. . .