I'm pretty sure that 95% of people reading this blog post will have a Facebook account
, it's the way the world is going and Facebook is fast becoming the defacto social network of choice. The service just keeps on growing and users are spending a phenomenal amount of time on the site but there are always areas that could be improved and with that in mind I wanted to take a look at 5 key areas that Facebook needs to improve over the next year to ensure they stay ahead of the market. Don't get me wrong, they are doing a lot of stuff right but if there ultimate goal is to IPO they are going to have to increase revenues and look at ways of improving the service further still and even though I am sure they are more than aware of them here are some of the areas that I think they can improve and by doing so massively increase revenues...
There is no doubt that this is on the way and as recently as this week Facebook inked a deal with Paypal
to help process their payments. There has been talk of some sort of payment service in development since 2008 but Facebook must be taking their time to ensure that they get it right. Some of the smart brands and businesses are already creating custom pages that link through to their own stores but the sooner Facebook allows you to start selling your goods and services direct through Facebook the better. With a user base of 400 million and growing this could turn in to a massive cash cow for them if and when they get it right. Expect to see this within the next 6 months and expect a huge influx of retailers and vendors when it does happen.
Uptime And Speed
Twitter gets a lot of heat for the amount of downtime it has but for me Facebook has always been worse. It can be maddeningly slow to load pages at times and if they want to stay serious they are going to have to take a leaf out of Google's book and try and speed everything on the service up as much as possible. Facebook have to treat this as important an issue as adding more users because the more pages existing users can use the more advertising money they are going to be able to collect. I just expect Facebook to be slow at this stage and for a company of it's size and reach with the funding and revenues that it has that is just not acceptable any more and hopefully 2010 will be the year they finally speed Facebook up.
The analytics on pages are not bad as it is but if they want to get more advertising dollars out of us all then they need to come up with something as powerful as Google Analytics
for Facebook. One of the reasons people spend so much money with Google on advertising is that they can measure and track their spend in great detail and Facebook will need to replicate that. Personal profiles have no tracking despite some apps that get close and professional pages have some fairly basic analytics with bigger advertisers getting some better insights but it is time that Facebook either developed their own analytics package or snapped one up that could do the job for them.
Advertising on Facebook
is fairly standard and always has been. You see the ads down the right hand side of pretty much every page you are on and despite the fact that you can tailor the ads and target them at very specific demographics I just can't help but wonder are there not some better ad formats that Facebook could be using? Click through rates on Facebook are extremely low and Facebook would need to make sure that whatever advert format they did introduce didn't interfere with the user experience because we all know just how annoyed users get when adverts start interfering with their social networking. I'd just like to see Facebook think a little outside the box on the advert front and hopefully strike a nice new balance between more effective ads and happy users.
Doing any sort of work on Facebook is a real pain thanks to their FBML mark up language. To me it feels like what editing blogs using HTML 3 or 4 years ago used to feel like...painful. We have written extensively in the past about just how hard it is to edit pages and it is a massive shame that they can't come up with a more simple editing system that would make it easier for small businesses who have limited budget to start playing around with the pages as well without having to hire developers. Facebook needs to come up with a system that is idiot proof (something along the lines of Wordpress) so as the ordinary man in the street can start dragging and dropping content around pages and building exciting dynamic content. At the moment good quality well designed Facebook pages seem to be the preserve of the big brands and companies with large budgets and that simply should not be the case.
[caption id="attachment_7633" align="aligncenter" width="635" caption="Editing FBML is hard"][/caption]