This summer, Facebook announced a lot of features to upgrade itself as a marketing platform. One of the significant steps is 'Facebook Offers' for Pages, allowing businesses to PUSH offers to fans. Studies show that offers [read coupons/discounts] are the number one reason why people engage with Brands on Facebook. There is a cottage industry that has grown to serve 'Offers' to fans in the form of Apps and custom Tabs. Looks like Facebook stood in the background and watched all this silently until the numbers looked bright enough for Facebook to enter the scene. Predictably, Facebook came up with its own version of 'Offers'. This fits perfectly into Facebook’s plans, as it can provide unmatched REACH and RELEVANCE to the Offers with the data it hoards – social and interest graph.
Now, before we get excited too much, Offers is still a push and spread mechanism. Where the business PUSHES the Offer, and people (by sharing, liking and commenting) SPREAD the news in ripples. There is a huge dependency on the magical ‘viral’ factor, so the success rates are still low.
What Facebook can do now, to alter the game dramatically is, to flip the flow. Say it introduces 'WANT'!
‘Want’ is a kind of post that seeks as response from the supplier- information, deal, service, product. These Wants are exactly like classifieds. For a majority of Facebook users it will be convenient if they don’t need to go to Craigslist and check their mail separately, if Facebook integrates Craigslist completely
This way Facebook could
- Enter highly profitable classifieds business (last known valuation of Craigslist – 5 Billion USD)
- Kill deal aggregators (users don’t need to go anywhere else! And who can do a better Groupon?)
- Give Google a run for its money – migrate the Long tail advertisers to Facebook (more than 3 million advertisers use Google)
- Prove to the Wall Street that there is real money in Facebook
This apart from giving lazy users like me a way to use classifieds without having to open a new browser tab