Finding Facebook’s Formula

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Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press; CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg

In business, the saying goes you do not need to recreate the wheel. You can find solutions to problems and answers to questions in looking at history, being creative, being willing to take a risk, and in many ways by looking at your competitors and other industries for ideas and influence.  Facebook is looking to grow and stay relevant.  Facebook wants to dominate the content information space.  Here are five ways it can.

  1. Distribute More Content

In looking at the recent FOX/AT&T distribution deal, we can see two competitors who just fought each other across the negotiation table over Sky assets agree to distribute content.  Facebook and its Facebook Watch platform, if the company wants to increase its reach and growth, will need more distribution partners.  Facebook’s subsidiary Instagram and that social media platform’s InstagramTV are great places to start.  Facebook should consider licensing its content on additional platforms to increase viewership and growth.  If Facebook is serious about its content, it will find ways to distribute it to more people.

  1. Create More Content

Facebook has an opportunity to reach people in a very unique way.  It is a social media platform that collects information, distributes information, and has an existing audience.  Studios, content providers, and distributors should be so lucky. Facebook needs to create, license, and distribute more content on its platforms and others and then advertise for that content to drive more dollars and viewers.

  1. Diversity of Content

Netflix dominates because it has a vast array of content that almost any person would want to watch.  Amazon does so well because it offers its own content plus other platform’s content. Facebook currently does not and it faces a host of other issues with possible government intervention in terms of its data collection, information-sharing practices, and size.  That being said, if Facebook wants more viewers, it will need to, in some sense, find a way to be a hybrid between Google’s YouTube (e.g., people sharing information and content) and Amazon Prime (e.g., a regulated platform-controlled content provider) that increases engagement and viewership.  For example, the last time this author spent more than five minutes on Facebook during a session was when Facebook had Major League Baseball games on its platform. If Facebook had more diversity of content more people would spend time there.

  1. Scale of Content

Similar to the above section on diversity of content, Facebook can increase its viewership by adding to its library of content.  Of course, in all this potential for growth, Facebook will have to consider how it can be both uniquely a social media platform and a content provider.  At this point, Facebook has mostly been a platform used to share information not create content.  Can Facebook be both?  “Improvise, adapt, and overcome,” as Clint Eastwood said in the film Heartbreak Ridge, might be the key here because under the current model Facebook has been losing the engagement battle.  Offering more content under a model that projects more growth than it does the costs of licensing and creating content is a simple, but proven way to success.

  1. Share More Content

Facebook is a worldwide platform accessible by pretty much anyone with an internet provider.  That is a far broader reach than any distributor or sports content provider.  Facebook might consider sharing clips of information and content, like a news source, to drive traffic and thus advertisers.  This would be in addition to the content that is currently shared by its users.  With Facebook sharing content, it may be able to better control the information that is shared on its platform.

The concern with doing the above, however, is really two-fold: (1) will Facebook offer a paid and more exclusive platform like Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube TV to pay for more content with or without commercials/advertisements, and (2) will Facebook’s voyage into more content further alert the Justice Department to regulate and break-up the company.

Either way, no great business decision started in fear of something yet to happen.  If Facebook wants more success (e.g., engagement and viewership), it will need to utilize its already created wheel of viewership to distribute more information and content. Pretty sure that John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil) and Bill Gates (Microsoft) both made money during their antitrust breakups, and possibly made more from the breakup than the initial company itself.

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