The trick has always been how to make a social network, like Facebook, create revenue. There is only one way, and that of course, is advertising. But, it isn’t as simple as slapping a garish Delta Airlines banner across the top of the page – Facebook has already witnessed the slings and arrows of public dissent with their ‘privacy issues,’ and they know to tread lightly with their users. So, how can they walk the line and covertly sell us things we think we don’t want?
A recent article in Business Week suggests that in the next twelve months Facebook will move into the realm of Amazon or eBay and start making real inroads as an E-Commerce platform. And the businesses are lined up at the door to try to get their virtual ‘shops’ on the site. But will people make the leap to buying on a social site?
According to the recent piece, Facebook is developing software aimed at letting users give product reviews and shopping advice in real time, whilst using their analytic tools (essentially a ‘like’ button) to let retailers find out what people really desire. For brands, the last option should be worth the price of admission alone. There is also a new crop of software companies helping to turn individual Facebook pages into stores, like the San Francisco based Payvment, which estimates that it’s creating ‘250 new Facebook retailers every day,’ with a current stable of over 40,000. Another is Alvenda, that charges up to $10,000 a month for an online store front set-up and maintenance, which begs the question of ‘who is going to get rich out of this? The answer, as one analyst suggested, is “There’s money in this for all of the players involved.” And that money is just going to grow and grow in the next five years.