Facebook Testing New “Want” Feature

Facebook was formerly seen as the next massively profitable company due to its hundreds of millions of users. Then it had its IPO back in May of this year, and things stopped looking so great. It didn’t take long for Facebook’s stock value to drop almost by 50% as Wall Street expressed concerns about how the company would increase profits. Pundits placed blame on different aspects of the company, and many pointed their fingers to founder and owner Mark Zuckerberg.

Every blog writer or journalist involved in covering this story expressed doubts about how Facebook could get out of this rut. It simply wasn’t doing the things it needed to do to monetize its service in a way that pleased investors. But maybe Facebook was working hard, though, because in last few weeks we have seen some great developments: Facebook Gifts and Promoted Posts.

The two developments are very promising for boosting Facebook on Wall Street. And it hasn’t stopped there. News from late yesterday tells us that Facebook has a new feature it’s beginning to test: a “Want” button.

Facebook Testing “Want” Button for Retailers

I have to admit – I think Facebook is performing well under pressure. Everything I’ve seen so far looks like a solid strategy for the social media giant, and it seems the new developments won’t hurt user experience. I was just as impressed to read about the new move, as Tim Bradshaw with the Financial Times writes, “Facebook is testing a new “Want” button for online retailers, similar to the … “Like” button, which consumers can use to add product images to an online wishlist.”

An online wishlist is a great way for Facebook to begin transitioning into a more lucrative space on the web for retailers. If retailers are going to have tracking and analytics available for users, this “Want” feature is going to be very useful. As Alexei Oreskovic with MSNBC writes, this new “Want” scheme lays the groundwork “for what some believe could be an eventual push into e-commerce.” I can definitely see this happening to Facebook. The broader name for the move is Facebook Collections.

Facebook Leaving the Social Media Sphere?

Moving to e-commerce might seem like Facebook would be getting away from its roots as a social media platform. Maybe it is, but Facebook needs to improve its profits for Wall Street. Hopefully, it can manage the move to e-commerce while still staying true to the experience users have today. If it doesn’t, it’s not going to work well. Facebook will have to design this with the user in mind and find unique ways to get them to participate, which it is already doing that with its Gifts program. These potential revenue sources are designed as a part of the social networking purpose of Facebook.

Collections is Social

The fact that people will be able to buy each other gifts – and also showcase objects they want from retailers – is likely going to spur some purchases. At the risk of being labeled sexist, I can see these new features being utilized by women much more than men, just are they are with Pinterest. I can’t see myself ever buying something over Facebook, but I know many people who just might. Collections keeps the commercial activity of “wanting” in a social sphere by making the product viewable by friends. People can share what they want, talk about it, and eventually purchase it from Facebook or the retailer.

No Money, Yet

Facebook isn’t collecting anything from these transactions yet; it’s still in the testing phase. If positive results are seen, though, expect the “Want” and “Collect” features to become available to all Facebook users, and then expect Facebook to start taking a cut. Or, at the very least, if Facebook can prove these new features attract paying customers, retailers and businesses will have more reasons to advertise and participate on Facebook versus other platforms. Time will tell how this turns out, but either way, it’s going to be interesting!

Do you think a “Want” feature is a good move for Facebook? Why or why not?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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