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Facebook On Fire!

There are many ways to decorate for the holidays.

For some folks it is all about classical looks, simple white lights and an abundance of good taste.

However, for every “less is more” fan out there, there is at least one “way more is better” fan. You know, that house in the neighborhood that’s universally beloved by anyone under the age of 12, and highly divisive for any adults over the age of 18.

Also known as Las Vegas meets Santa Claus.

Christmas lights — and one’s neighbor’s practices regarding them — are a small part of the holiday season that do a surprisingly good job of capturing one of the stranger mysteries of the holiday as a whole: the tension between always wanting more — and being worried that it will all be too much. From the lights, to the gifts, to the food and even the wrapping paper, everyone spends the better part of a month trying to avoid overdoing it in favor of just getting it all right and put together tastefully.

Which leads to Facebook: the dubstep lightshow creator of the payments and commerce ecosystem this week.

Amazon might have won Cyber Monday (and Thanksgiving and Black Friday), but Facebook took down Giving Tuesday with CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that he will be donating 99 percent of his FB shares (currently worth about $45 billion) toward building a better world for his new daughter and her entire generation.

[Mark Zuckerberg, at least in our book, also won the top prize for parental gift giving, possibly for the rest of time — or at least until Elon Musk builds his own kids a warp drive.]

But being the funding engine for building a better world was something of an opening act for Facebook last week. There was still tinsel to add to the proverbial tree.

The world’s pre-eminent social media firm also went three deep in big announcements about the future of its social platform — and how it plans to make the 1 percent share of Facebook stock that Zuckerberg has retained (and will need to eek out a living) worth a lot more.

Those three things? A big commerce move, an enterprise play and a Trojan Horse of a digital streaming play that further weakens the divide between the digital and real world.

Just the right collection of gifts to the marketplace for Christmas? Or a case of what’s way more is better?

You can be the judge.

 

The (Super Limited) Move to Take On Ticketing

Move over, LiveNation.

Facebook, after some months of speculation, is making preliminary moves and will sell concert tickets directly from their site.

For now, that means Facebook is partnering with a handful of venues, artists and event promoters to sell tickets direct to consumers basically for free, as FB also isn’t taking any cut of ticket sales at the moment.

Or at least free as an inducement to get them on board — a classic platform ignition strategy. With a billion and change people on the site — many of them in that coveted concert-going age — it’s more than tempting.

Now, the service also isn’t that widely available. Buying tickets on Facebook is a Bay Area-only thing – surprise, surprise. It also isn’t exactly a frictionless system as of yet, as customers who buy their tickets through FB actually don’t get an eTicket but have an “omnichannel” experience – paying online and picking up at the will call window before the show.

It’s retail reinvented!

As for the rest of us who don’t live in the Bay Area?

We’ll have to wait. Facebook has not offered any information as of yet about the program’s expansion.

But they have done something else.

 

The Bigger Play To Beef Up Business Service

Facebook has updated its business page plug so that SMBs can chat it up with their customers directly from their Facebook pages.

The new plug-in essentially allows business to easily to drop a “message me” box along with event information are directly onto their page.

Through the new messaging function, consumers can write directly to businesses from their messaging accounts — and businesses can see those messages immediately in their Messenger App or within their desktop chat program.

Businesses can also easily create events on their Facebook page and then automatically populate that event (and future changes to it) on their site. It also allows users (aka customers) to subscribe for notifications about upcoming events.

The changes, most experts agree, are small, but clearly focused on a single goal: making the Facebook platform more attractive and more useful for small businesses by digitally integrating it with every other digital channel that a SMB has. Or, becoming the digital presence that a SMB has inside of the Facebook walled garden.

In theory, this is positioned to overcome the problems SMBs have run into with Facebook marketing in the past – the “you’ve built it yet no one has come since they haven’t seen it in their newsfeed since that’s the way our algorithms work” complaint that could only be overcome by buying (expensive) Facebook ads.

So, by making it easy for customers and businesses to message each other, and to share event information, Facebook is hoping to friend lots of SMBs.

 

Suddenly Super Into Streaming

The third part of the Facebook news trifecta this week is that Facebook is now giving users the ability to stream live video directly from the newsfeed.

Previously verified users had been able to use the feature with their fans, but now streaming is officially open for everyone to use directly with their friends within the app.

To tap into the feature, users can simply click the streaming button, and as the stream plays it is overlaid in real-time with the names of friends tuning in.

Sound familiar?

Facebook is not the first streaming service of course. Periscope and Meerkat perform similar services. But Facebook’s is really different. Like 1.5 billion times different.

Facebook’s user base makes it the third largest country on Earth by population – so it is certainly the largest scale attempt to deliver live streaming to the world’s largest virtual community of assembled “friends.”

Which might lead one to wonder if this might the go down in history as the one string of lights on the tree too many this week.

Because those concert venues (and, by extension, sporting venues) may not love an army of Facebook users live streaming their events for many reasons – starting with how putting up something for free on Facebook provides free access to something that someone paid lots of money to produce, host and charge admission fees for.

Can’t get tickets to Star Wars on opening day? No worries, as long as a streaming enthusiast is a FB friend who did get tickets.

YouTube tried that back in the day and it worked for a while, until it didn’t.

There’s also the privacy concerns, possibly from people who didn’t intend on being part of the real life “Truman Show” by simply going to the Patriots/Eagles game.

And that’s before the creepy examples, like people who sit at playgrounds all day and stream images of other people’s kids at play.

Illegal?

Not really.

And then there are the really tragic examples — those involving an increasing number of disturbed individuals and terrorists who use social media to gain notoriety for their crimes against humanity. It’s bad enough that there are outlets where those individuals are able to post their horrific actions, and it’s not clear if the world will be a better place if the option to live stream those things also exists in front of the world’s largest online networks of humans.

As a wise man once said, go big, or go home. Facebook chose not to go home this week. But will all the going big make a big difference? Maybe in two out of the three.

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