Today, Facebook announced some changes creating more things to do within Facebook; attempting to gain a bigger share of users’ online activity rather than more users. Probably the worst kept secret announced today is that Facebook will incorporate video calls on Skype into the Facebook platform. Other changes announced include an enhanced interface for group chat and ad hoc groups formed to help friends find things to do together.
Facebook’s announcement of video calls on Skype begins a season featuring announcements of new apps created at Facebook over the last 6 months. Any change to the Facebook platform offers challenges and opportunities for businesses using Facebook to build a community and share their messages across the largest social platform worldwide — with over 750 million users. A number Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, expects to reach over a billion soon.
Challenges and Opportunities For Businesses
Video calls on Skype within the Facebook platform offer some opportunities for businesses to create immediacy in their messages. Now, viral YouTube videos, status updates, and pictures will spread even faster as friends call each other and share. Currently, Facebook sharing is unpredictable as friends may miss updates appearing on their newsfeed as new updates replace old ones and some updates never appear on your newsfeed to reduce its noise and increase the relevance of your feed. Video calls on Skype will also be easier through the Facebook application; allowing anyone to call another without downloading Skype.
A bigger change for businesses comes through the other announcement today — enhanced group chat and a new interface. While this change didn’t draw as much attention and may not be a big deal for users, it has big potential for businesses, especially local businesses. As this change rolls out, users can create ad hoc groups. Let’s say your a restaurant and offer a 2 for 1 special (or you’re a group buying site like Living Social). Well, I may not be particularly interested in your offer because I’m just 1 person. But, once I can create an ad hoc group, I can select friends and start a group chat to get others interested in the offer. Now, your restaurant has a chance of attracting people through interest in the coupon and because friends are talking you up (assuming you have a decent reputation — without that, this can turn bad pretty fast).
I work with a number of arts organizations and ad hoc groups could be a god send. Often women want to see a play or concert or attend another arts function, but their husbands, boyfriends, significant others, don’t. Now, when an arts organization sends information about a performance or event, I set up an ad hoc group to see who else wants to go with me. If organizations harness the power of ad hoc groups, they will see significant increases in ticket sales.