Social network stocks took a beating last week on the heels of earnings announcements. Even Facebook (FB), which beat expectations on revenue and net income, found itself down 2.6 percent for the week as investors either wanted to take profits or became concerned about Facebook's 82 percent rise in expenses.
However, don't expect CEO Mark Zuckerberg to slow things down in response. The company may be the biggest thing in social media, but that status that can fall mighty quickly. Just remember Friendster and MySpace, two previous examples of social network royalty that were busted to the tiny rank of commoner in almost no time.
To keep Facebook on top, Zuckerberg must find ways to keep the money growing even as he and his team look for new ways to acquire users, increase business and boost the company's importance and brand. Here are some of the steps they're taking:
- Expand video. Whether uploaded short-form snippets, full features or streamed, video has become a mainstay of the Internet. According to networking vendor Cisco (CSCO), by 2019 nearly a million minutes of video will cross the Internet every second. Facebook has enabled video loading and embedding for years, but it keeps pushing the boundaries. The company just introduced live event streaming at the Lollapalooza music festival. Earlier this year, it launched tools for making videos with friends and video calls within its Messenger app.
- Outing the lurkers. Facebook makes money by showing users such content as ads, sponsored posts and videos. But some people block most of what hits their timelines. In response, the company has adjusted its software so that such people will see more content than they have in the past. In short, they can't hide as much as they used to.
- Expand its reach. When you're a social network with more than a billion users, how do you get larger? Find ways to bring in the people who couldn't connect to you before, like with a solar-powered drone that will range from 60,000 to 90,000 feet up, which is above commercial aircraft and regular weather. An adaption of laser technology used in fiber optics communications will beam signals back and forth through the air.
- Wade into political seas. Facebook has been big in presidential campaigns before, but now it's ramping up the tools it offers politicians to help them reach potential voters better than before.