With IPO anticipation for the $100-billion-valued Facebook seemingly reaching new heights every week, the social networking mainstay is continually innovating to keep expectations climbing even higher.
Prior to any confirmation of an exact public debut, the Palo Alto company is rolling out new features with gusto. Between the acquiring of other companies, adding new technologies, the updating of features, Facebook appears to be working hard to add a second coat to its service before it hits the showroom floor.
It's time to freshen the display
Wednesday was the first full day that the highly publicized and anticipated Timeline feature rolled out in New Zealand. Random, yes, but a strategic move to assure that the feature could get a real-world test drive before it is introduced to the company's stronghold customers in the states.
You may wonder if the Facebook Timeline could be in your Christmas stockings but the company merely stated that other regions would be seeing the feature in "the near future."
Facebook unveiled the glossy Timeline display in September and kept social media aficionados guessing as to when they would get to apply the multi-media layout on their profiles. This Timeline feature is the first major design change to come to the social network that built its system as a visceral reaction to the gaudy and gif-happy profiles that took over MySpace.
Privacy questions are still looming over how this layout will effect friends that have different levels of access to your photos and other posts.
Rejuvenating the consumer traffic
Facebook stated Wednesday that it will imminently launch a plugin for reporters and other public figures encourage users to subscribe to their updates Facebook directly from their own Web sites. The announcement came from the stage of the Parisian conference Le Web on Wednesday. Facebook VP Joanna Shields said that the subscribe feature will help boost the news value to Facebook, while helping journalists secure its followers on all fronts.
Now people that are familiar with RSS feeds and Twitter followers will be able to get similar value from their Facebook news feed.
Facebook users are a young, but devotes set with nearly half of the traffic coming from those born between 1977-1994, according to GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer. And with nearly another quarter of users in born between 1965-1976. Getting these users to frequent the site has not been a challenge for Facebook, but getting them to create a full internet experience with marketing, news, entertainment and sharing has been a major company focus to keep people on the site as long as possible.
While the young base on Facebook like to keep its profiles up-to-date and full of personal content, the company has to continue expressing its efforts to keep the majority of its adult population engaged. Social gaming has been successful for the adult female market -- and has been a boon to its lucrative credit system -- but more efforts may need to be illustrated to the public about keeping the mature audience on its site.
This week, more specific privacy concerns had a harsh light shone on them when photos of underaged users and other children were accessible by adults that had no connection to the children, but gained even more attention and traction when personal photos of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg were accessed.
The photo flaw was found that when a picture was initially labelled public but then recategorized as private, people could still access them and certain internet members exploited the security hole to show Facebook faults that continue to plague the network.
The lapse is especially troubling since it came just after the company agreed to a 20-year arrangement where the US Federal Trade Commission set out standards for independent audits, privacy options and opt-in terms.
"Earlier today, we discovered a bug in one of our reporting flows that allows people to report multiple instances of inappropriate content simultaneously," Facebook explained in a public statement. "This was the result of one of our recent code pushes and was live for a limited period of time. Upon discovering the bug, we immediately disabled the system, and will only return functionality once we can confirm the bug has been fixed."
As long Facebook can secure the comfort of it users with their recent recommitment to privacy and adding regular audits, the networking site should be able to push its traffic numbers in a northern trend rand push ahead toward IPO without concerns of spikey receptions like Zynga has seen.