Do you remember the days in the not-too-distant past when you went to a web hosting company website to sign up to put up a website of your own, or to a blog hosting platform to start your blog? Those days are slipping away. In case you haven’t noticed, Facebook has become a one stop full service solution. Yes, not only can you have a business page but business owners are now SELLING their products directly from Facebook. Facebook has become a complete merchant solution with e-commerce capabilities. In addition, you can start a BLOG on facebook. Some of you may have also noticed in the past month or so that Facebook has introduced a marketplace, similar to a CraigsList or even Ebay (minus the bidding feature, so far), where regular people sell their goods online.
Facebook is becoming all-encompassing. It is no longer the days of a “monopoly” or “trust” because there are laws against that. Facebook has attempted to buy up smaller social media companies, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. Certainly, a company can lawfully become a leader in its industry, like Coke or Comcast. However, if Facebook is a one-stop solution, then users might fade away from its competitors. But there is also the argument that each platform markets to a different segment of the population, for example, Snapchat attracts younger users, which leverages that platform’s market share.
Facebook always had the mantra that it is “Free and Always Will Be”, so how do they make money? Through advertising! Recently, Angie’s List decided to become a free platform. How does this help them? They can get money through advertising. It also leads us back to an age old marketing dilemna — what makes people purchase? Are people more likely purchase because something is free? Not necessarily. But it brings more users into the fold and creates competition. Advertisers will pay big bucks once a platform can prove how many visitors it receives each month. A captive audience to sell to is worth big money.
Facebook may have become the one-stop-shop that is the sum total of the most popular websites over the past two decades, but it hasn’t shut out the competition. The new question for business owners and platform developers: what’s next?