After having its IPO, Facebook has become one of the largest, strongest and the most influential social media. With organizations, social enterprises and non-profit organizations using social media to raise awareness, the competition rises. Facebook is no longer positioning itself as just a social media solution - it is starting to grow beyond it's own brand.
About a fifth of the time that regular smartphone users are spent on Facebook. The number surpasses the amount time people spend on any other single service by a wide margin. Facebook has made itself as a pioneer on the internet and written itself into the top of the history of successful startups.
However, towards the end of 2013, Facebook reported a drop in usage among younger teen users. It's not really clear whether this will continue or change, but it's a indicative of how the world of social media behaves. At one time, everyone prefers to use a specific network, and the next minute they change their mind and prefer another. Facebook, as the largest social media with the largest database of people may need to look beyond social media, given how dynamic the tech world is.
Develop or Buy?
As one of the pioneers on the internet, Facebook has changed in many ways. With each change, the company is expecting to give better user experience and satisfaction.
Facebook has overcome minor to major redesign and launched numerous of new features and services over the years. The two big products that Facebook revealed in 2013 was Home, and Android lock screen, and Graph Search, a social search engine.
The internet is growing at a staggering rate. More and more businesses are using the internet as their platform and build their user base from it. There was the time when competitors were scarce, but with the crowded environment Facebook is in, the competition is just getting tighter and tighter. Innovations are blooming and startups' growth is astonishing.
People at Facebook tried to overcome the competition by both developing products and services in-house in the very best they can but many have failed to catch on.
"Most of these new things that we're doing aren't going to move any needles in our business for a very long time," said Mark Zuckerberg.
And each time a much-hyped Facebook's product/service failed to get a grip, or every time the company pays billions for someone else's idea, Facebook has been predicted to see its doom. However, this hasn't made Zuckerberg worried.
Facebook's innovation may have stalled, but Zuckerberg has been working on revamping how the company creates and distributes new services - services that goes beyond social media. One of the notable effort is called the Creative Labs, and it can be summarized in a single word: apps.
"What we're doing with Creative Labs is basically unbundling the big blue app," said Zuckerberg. "On mobile, people want different things. Ease of access is so important. So is having the ability to control which things you get notifications for. And the real estate is so small. In mobile there's a big premium on creating single-purpose first-class experiences."
Facebook was one big thing, a website or a mobile app that let you indulge all of your online social needs. Now, on mobile phones especially, Facebook will begin to splinter into many smaller, more narrowly focused services, some of which won't even carry Facebook's branding, and may not require a Facebook account to use.
The Creative Labs strategy fits with Zuckerberg’s view that some parts of the mobile internet are much bigger and more complicated than he had previously thought. He noted that WhatsApp and Facebook’s Messenger were identical and both are made to send texts. But after studying both of the products' user bases, Zuckerberg found that these apps were used by different people for different purposes.
The company spent billions for acquiring others' ideas, notably a groundbreaking $19 billion for WhatsApp and a billion for Instagram. "I think we basically saw that the messaging space is bigger than we’d initially realized," he said.
"WhatsApp and Messenger have are more different than we had thought originally. Messenger is more about chatting with friends, and WhatsApp is like an SMS replacement."
The idea for acquisitions is explained. Facebook acquired numerous ideas because services like WhatsApp and Instagram can benefit from Facebook's resources while maintaining their own communities and not cannibalizing Facebook's own user base.
Growing Beyond the Brand
The plan for the company to grow beyond its own brand is a bold move, yet a risky one. Mark Zuckerberg's plan for Facebook to move beyond its own brand isn't really a surprise. Facebook has long been offering its services in separate apps; it introduced a stand-alone text-message app, Messenger, in 2011. The new plan will accelerate and different apps Facebook launch will prioritize different functions.
Zuckerberg said the multi-app strategy is meant to adapt Facebook to the way people use mobile phones, which now account for the bulk of Facebook’s visits and advertising revenue.
Because there's so little space on a phone's screen, apps that promote a single function can have a simpler and more intuitive design, improving how they work. And because single-purpose apps have less features, they will also run more quickly.
The multi-app strategy allows Facebook to take its creativity back to itself. "You'll see us exploring new areas that we felt we didn't have the room to do before," said Zuckerberg.
By filtering its innovations into new apps that lack an established user base, engineers and designers can take creative leaps that may not have worked before. Take the Paper app for example. Developers of the app said that they had been given the freedom to try out new kinds of programming tools to indulge novel design ideas; they described it as an effort to mimic the ethos of a startup within Facebook. The result is powerful: Paper looks and feels like no other Facebook app, and it quickly gained traction and fans since it was first launched.
For software companies, one of the drawbacks of becoming successful is to become is to have less room to innovate. Because Facebook has a lot of users, most will averse to any change. And to add more to the problem, creating new services outside of its main app will limit Facebook's ability to promote its innovations to its core user base. But with Paper, Facebook can still establish a strong ground.
Paper is one of the earliest way Facebook took to loosen its own branding. "We went out of our way to just call it Paper, not Facebook Paper," said Zuckerberg. "One of the things that we're trying to do with Creative Labs and all our experiences is explore things that aren't all tied to Facebook identity."
If the new plan succeeds, then the future of Facebook may not look like Facebook - and may not even bear the name "Facebook." It will be everywhere, but you may not know it.
"There are some sets of experiences that are just better with other identities."
Contributing to the Growth of the Internet
In 2013, the earth is populated by 7.1 billion people, and 39 percent (about 2.77 billion) of them is connected to internet. Since Facebook have over a billion users, Facebook's growth is faster than the internet population itself. This means that Facebook's growth will soon slow down, or eventually halt if the company does not contribute to the growth of the internet itself.
To prevent this thing to happen and by adding several other reasons to it, Facebook took a broad leap with Creative Labs to to connect the entire world to the internet. Facebook and other tech companies launched Internet.org, a global partnership to make the internet available to the two-thirds of the world's population that doesn't have it by using solar powered drones to beam internet access.
"Our goal with Internet.org is to make affordable access to basic internet services available to every person in the world," said Zuckerberg.