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What the new Facebook means for you

Talking to someone connected with the restaurant business recently, I learnt that in that line of business, occasional redecoration of interiors, relaunches and new offers are part of the strategy to keep customers coming in – so that the brand stays fresh in the memory of customers and prospects.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2011 15:51 IST
N Madhavan

Talking to someone connected with the restaurant business recently, I learnt that in that line of business, occasional redecoration of interiors, relaunches and new offers are part of the strategy to keep customers coming in – so that the brand stays fresh in the memory of customers and prospects.

I was reminded of that last week when I heard of Facebook, which has gone for a makeover. Earlier this year I described Facebook as the “new café” and the new features in Facebook is such that the analogy of the restaurant business is significant.

After all, like a real-life café, Facebook is now the virtual world’s most popular hangout, where you meet friends, acquaintances and strangers to exchange stories and share anecdotes.

The new Facebook enables a “Timeline” to help you share your stories and track those who interest you and also sets the ground for sharing of music and other content in partnership with content providers (Doesn’t that remind you of a jukebox in a café?).

A fine article in the online section of the Hindustan Times (http://tinyurl.com/3nun6u8) explains the new set-up so you can understand this better, though some of the content features have not been adapted for India – though I am sure it will be done sooner than later.

Now, why is Facebook doing all this? I would think that like in a restaurant, there is a revamp angle, and also a plan to make people spend more time in a manner that makes more money. The interesting thing about Facebook is that it was not launched first clearly with a business model – unlike a cafe where the idea right from the outset is to sell food or drinks.

In the virtual world, content drives advertising or subscriptions. Facebook advertisements need a more organised plan just as an eatery needs food supplies. A plan built around content seems the right thing to do build revenue prospects.

Also, Google’s own born-again social network, Google Plus, promotes the idea of “circles’ built around common interests, while Twitter, the microblogging site with conversations between people has the idea of people reading “timelines” on which you follow those who interest you.

The new Facebook has elements of both – which goes to show that market leaders can steal ideas from new rivals.