The social media giant made it possible for its users to book a concert ticket, order a meal delivered directly to their home or get a manicure appointment, all without leaving the platform.
Yesterday, the company has officially rolled out its long-developed feature that allows Facebook's users to use the website for even more things than just connecting with their friends. In fact, the company relies on the fundamental "connecting with friends" idea that they pride themselves on to drive the popularity of their new utilities feature allowing the users to order food, book appointments, buy event tickets and many more. Why exactly is Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) doing this?
The social media giant wants to extend the time users spend on the website by giving them less and less reasons to leave the platform when they need to complete a "social" task. The company says that there is nothing more convincing for people considering to visit yet another restaurant or watch a movie than getting a recommendation about it from their friends.
That is why, Facebook wants to direct its users to get that service or product their friends recommend as fast as possible. And to allow them to do that, Facebook has integrated the purchase and order buttons into the accounts of numerous salons, restaurants and movie theaters (only in the U.S. for now) in order to make it possible for the users, jealous about their friend's new haircut, to book an appointment in that hair salon directly via Facebook.
The users going after ordering a meal are now able to do so on the restaurant's Facebook page by clicking on a newly-added button "Start Order" that initiates the delivery request completed by one of Facebook's delivery partners like Delivery.com and Slice. In turn, those interested in booking salon appointments could click on "Request Time" to ask for a timeslot as well as on "Get Quote" to estimate how much their haircut would cost. The appointment bookings on Facebook are operated through MyTime whereas movie and concert tickets reservations are managed through the biggest ticket booking platforms like Ticketmaster and EventBrite, reports TechCrunch.
Well, with the amount of data Facebook already has on its 1.7 billion audience, it's no surprise that the company is exploring new ways of engaging the users and getting even more data about them. Though Facebook says that they don't plan on using this new data to pump up the ads revenue, says the Wall Street Journal. The Events app, Facebook's older development allowing the users to monitor events happening around their area, could benefit the most from the new feature as it already has more than 650 million users. Before, the app's users could only follow the upcoming events and had to use other platforms to actually purchase the tickets. TechCrunch experts believe that the Events app will be able to show the fastest adoption rates by becoming the actual one-stop shop offering ticket bookings right on the spot. For Facebook, this would mean an attractive high-conversion destination for their ads.
By launching this update, Facebook might be able to steal a big chunk of traffic from Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), popular platforms as Yelp (NYSE: YELP) and Fandango as well as numerous food delivery apps. The company bets on the convenient booking experience, friends' recommendations and personalized event suggestions based on the user's Facebook likes to beat the "traditional" booking and search experience that involves using multiple websites to achieve the same goal.
"We’re starting to roll out these initial experiences in the US today. This is the first step, and over the coming months we’ll be launching even more new features that will make it easier to get things done, make confident decisions and communicate directly with businesses on your time and terms," the company wrote in the statement yesterday.
The new feature is expected to bring a lot of advertising and "connecting" opportunities for Facebook, considering that the company has been struggling with a considerable decline in the content postings. According to the Wall Street Journal, the latest survey showed that the number of users sharing their pictures or updating social statuses has declined by over 20% this year, which is a very alarming trend for a platform relying on its users to produce the content.
Another important point is that developing the food delivery and booking features inevitably means that users will use Facebook's search tab more often. This wouldn't be a problem if the platform's search mechanism wouldn't be its weak spot, say the analysts. On top of that, it is still too early to say whether Facebook's users would be actually ready to switch their "traditional" behaviour that involves using the platform solely as a social communication tool to these new tasks. And some experts believe that this might not go as smooth as Facebook hopes. At the same time, the data from tracking the users' purchases could be increasingly attractive for advertisers by allowing Facebook to show the audience more personalized and effective ads.
This means that Facebook would be trying very hard for this project to work out because if it does, it could open numerous business opportunities for the company both from the audience and from the partner side.