This story was written by Robert Andrews.
Facebook's demonstration of some polling technology to luminaries at the World Economic Forum this weekend is causing some to wonder whether the social network isn't trying out yet another monetisation model Founder's sister Randi Zuckerberg introduced the online public polls to 12 real-world forums in Davos, generating real-time feedback for panel speakers. Now Telegraph.co.uk, which interviewed Zuckerberg, says Facebook is to offer the tool to companies who could conduct market research on potential new products by polling Facebook users.
Zuckerberg said: "I had tonnes of people saying 'this could be so incredible for our business'. It takes a very long time to do a focus group, and businesses often don't have the luxury of time. I think they liked the instant responses. Davos is really a key place to launch an instant tool like this. It's beneficial for everyone to see us as a global community of 150 million users. The vast majority are not just college students in the US talking about things in their bedrooms. We are showing how we are a serious and insightful community."
And now Telegraph.co.uk is calling it "an attempt to finally monetise the social networking site by creating one of the world's largest market research databases". There was no announcement at Davos about a new market research platform strategy for Facebook, so it's unclear whether this is Telegraph.co.uk jumping the gun or really a potential new business model drawn up as instantaneously as the poll results Zuckerberg's new toy received in Switzerland.
It's true, though, that Facebook, with this year forecast to be crunch time for social networks, should be looking for as many ways to make money as possible, after erring with its controversial Beacon last year and now trying to build enthusiasm for its Engagement Ads. Though Facebook revoked users' ability to create polls late last year, it's retained the underlying functionality for itself
By Robert Andrews