Search. Chat. Email. Facebook?
So, Facebook is evolving.
With emphasis on at least 3 core web services – search, chat and the upcoming email – Facebook is getting more serious about functions that Google, among others, are doing well at providing. It makes sense. So here are some quick thoughts on what 400 million users are experiencing on Facebook these days:
A bigger search bar, center stage.
Why it’s good for Facebook:
Keeps users in the site; search is clearly important, if it’s done well people may use it. Facebook controls not all but a lot of social capital on the web. Social search has obvious value for them (and us), but will it be enough? Not quite. Then… wait for it…. Bing! At least it’s trying now. With a lot of help from Microsoft meaningful search results can surface from within the Facebook wall.
Why it’s lame:
Integrated search is not executed well at all. Maybe I just don’t know about the secret and strategic plan to roll out reasonable usability at a snail’s pace? The search results don’t integrate with the Bing-driven web results that remain a click away from the sidebar. Google is always atop my browser, one click or keystroke away (F6 for those who don’t know). Why would I switch? Un. Bloody. Likely. Here’s a free tip for you, Facebook: if you can’t solve the true integration challenge, simply try placing Bing results right next to social results. Make that more visible right off the bat and some of us might actually intend on typing something into your search box rather than doing so accidentally. (But as of course that’s unlikely to happen, because we’ve got F6.)
Slightly more accessible chat.
Why it’s good:
Keeps users in the site; chatter is constant. Lots of people sign into this feature already. Maybe now the rest of us who don’t use it a lot will think of turning it on now and again. You know, because your chat box isn’t only available from the bottom-right anymore (a location also known as “the last place a person in the western world naturally directs their eyes towards”)
3rd party email service integration, Facebook content integration, voice and video chat. Lots of work to do here, but doable, and potentially very useful. What else is missing? My objectivity. At some point in this post I began addressing Facebook as “you”. Ha.
Upcoming email service.
Why it’s good:
While they won’t likely get my business in this area, if rolled out properly they could get a lot of newcomers rockin’ the …@fbmail.com or ….@fb.com – if they could somehow pry that domain from the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Why you’ll wait for version 2:
Facebook will probably push social context down our throats, ignoring that email experience that do not need to evolve into a frenzy of likes and threaded rambling. After all, Google provides Wave for that. If my email procedures get just 5% less efficient, a huge time-suck will ensue. I can’t risk that. This’ll be a tough one for Facebook to generate conversion from, but new adoption is another story.
Ready? Set? Now race to the middle!
In a way, as Google gets more serious about the social game and Facebook moves towards the domains of the Mountain View Machine, we’re looking at a race to the middle that will have some very interesting outcomes, and perhaps some friendly ones as well. Clever mashups are already around; check out Threadsy. Some cool integration there. Now if only it was executed by the data sources themselves, in collaboration with each other. Imagine if Google and Facebook innovated together? Unlikely, I know. But the economies of scale could be there for their servers appetites. Lotta pictures on that site. And growing. Okay okay, enough economic rationale. It’s complex and they are fighting for glory. One is focused on implicit results and the other, explicit. And yes, the fight is too good for now. Like most of us, I enjoy watching it. I also find value in multiple services. I enjoy many benefits from several cloud services, and as for the drawbacks, I try to minimize my encounters with them. I like that the industry is busy and competitive because it’ll make result in better products, ones of better value. Mistakes along then way, for sure. But reasonable competition for the masses. I like that they’re trying.
Trying… and killing it out there… here are some recent stats… go to Facebook the source.
- More than 400 million active users
- 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
- More than 35 million users update their status each day
- More than 60 million status updates posted each day
- More than 3 billion photos uploaded to the site each month
- More than 5 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each week
- More than 3.5 million events created each month
- More than 3 million active Pages on Facebook
- More than 1.5 million local businesses have active Pages on Facebook
- More than 20 million people become fans of Pages each day
- Pages have created more than 5.3 billion fans