Jan 31 - Analysts are taking a closer look at Facebook's business strategy and what's next for the social media industry with big Wall Street money looking for a friend. Conway G. Gittens reports.
The world of social media has grown exponentially click by click by click and now the crown jewel, Facebook, is expected to launch what may the biggest initial public offering ever seen - virtual or real. And that has opened up new scrutiny of Facebook and the social media landscape at large. Experts like Lance Ulanoff of Mashable say Facebook has learned from the mistakes of early pioneers- by innovating with services, like something called "Timeline" which integrates apps and gestures. SOUNDBITE: LANCE ULANOFF, EDITOR IN CHIEF, MASHABLE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Gestures are things that you do within those apps that you can share on your timeline. And the way that Facebook has built this is that you share it once and then it is shared consistently. These are innovations that really transform Facebook from this meeting place to something much more. That is a big part of how they maintain the momentum." That "something much more" is what Facebook hopes will keep it relevant and ahead of the pack. But other social networks are tinkering with ways to keep people on their sites as well. Google+ is pushing video. Its Hangouts service incorporates video conferencing into the social network. President Obama was just "hanging out" with Google+ users this week. Getting people to stay connected longer increases revenue. SOUNDBITE: LANCE ULANOFF, EDITOR IN CHIEF, MASHABLE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "If a social network can become a platform like for example Windows or Google's platform or Android, that's a big deal because you can build things on top of that. And people spend more and more time doing things; even things like buying stuff. So imagine a world where you're always in Facebook. That's the world Facebook wants to build." And the IPO, now expected to be between $5 billion and $10 billion, will give Facebook even more cash towards that goal. Conway Gittens, Reuters