As i said elsewhere, FaceBook as an advertising company does not work. It is just stupid. Because no one looks at the ads in FB, we try the best we can to not notice the ads, and the more they capture our attention the worse the site is. That is just the opposite of what happens with Google, the best the ads the best the search results. So FB should try to become a better FB, and through that go get money. One possible recipe follows.
The universal gripe over FB is posting something that goes to unintended audiences. Like a teacher posting dirty jokes to his friends and getting complaints from parents (whom he never even imagined would read his posts). From an engineering standpoint that is a matter of permissions, but of course from a poster standpoint that is a matter of role-playing. He posted from his “Person” role and got mixed with his “Teacher” role. Solution:
Help people manage their identities. Identity is a multiple thing. That is why you must be able to “Post as”. So i’d imagine they could kick-start it with “Post as: _ Professional _ Person _” (the last check mark being for “as all”). Those names of course must be editable, since we are continuously reinventing ourselves. And of course it must not be publicly observable which roles a user has or is posting from.
Having different “permission lists” just does not work, even if in the backside both things are the same thing. FaceBook is not about friends just as much as an address book is not about friends even if your friends’ phone numbers are there. Conceptually, maybe the initial config of which friends can listen to which roles should be framed as an exclusion process: “Do you wish to block some friends from what you post as professional?”
The idea is so obvious i bet they already have a few of those as working prototypes. The only problem with that is it seems to go against the Zuck mantra of “everyone should be more public”. But it doesn’t. Being public is a process of putting oneself in a position that can be interpreted and understood. This in turn requires a control of how your ideas get framed. In fact, the more public you are, the more you need to control your broadcasts.
So, realizing FaceBook is a broadcast company, just like tweeter, for example, where everyone can be a spammer, we realize where FB can get money from: Every single entity that has a team dedicated to editing their FaceBook profiles should be a paying costumer. And of course if you have Coca-Cola paying she’ll demand a much better enterprise interface. Not that crappy thing where you have to create a Group-login that automatically logs you out of the first one (it might even be better by now, i tried it once but it was painful). And of course these developments would naturally translate into a better interface for non-paying users too.
FaceBook is the ultimate PR company. If it starts acting like it, she can go get the money.