If Facebook wants to innovate, they need to think like a bank

Here’s some news that can help Mark Zuckerberg cope with his current problems. Facebook just launched a new company called MobiliCore. It describes itself as “to be positioned as the cloud-based platform for commercial…

If Facebook wants to innovate, they need to think like a bank

Here’s some news that can help Mark Zuckerberg cope with his current problems. Facebook just launched a new company called MobiliCore. It describes itself as “to be positioned as the cloud-based platform for commercial and public sector organisations in 2018.”

By the sounds of it, you would think that an app or a hardware device was going to be among the items acquired by the company, but the technology is “aimed at improving the efficiency of consumer digital customer services and driving a fundamental shift in how we interact with organisations.” To me, that sounds like four people working in a kitchen to launch Facebook and an extra four doing the organisation stuff.

Shell argues that it is not a company in digital but “a large city”

MobiliCore is the recent spin-off of Facebook’s technology team, which has been busy reinventing Facebook with numerous incremental improvements, primarily around photos, messaging and organising your life. This is such a common practice that the words “storytelling” and “streaming” may well have been coined to explain some of the platform’s problems.

One of the more effective of these refinements has been the redefinition of the “stories” of the format, which seems to have now expanded to include any page in the News Feed, which probably leads to the constant stream of updates from updates from the office of the CEO.

Yet, amidst this layering of living room stuff, users still come across stuff their own friends couldn’t possibly have the time or inclination to engage with, such as jobs, movies, parents and weather. Some of these are local things people mention; other related to lifestyle issues. All fine and well and nicely discussed within their local networks. But not really worth a great deal unless their Facebook is used like the standard social networking platform, in a group chat.

As far as their problem is concerned, their business is not really the news. Shell’s social media strategy is similarly problematic. When a company is to be less of a company in digital and more of a large city, it starts to look a bit bizarre if their social media strategy looks rather like the person who signs you up for a dinner party.

Investment bankers know what you are doing with your time

Of course, the problem with the business of Facebook or Shell, unlike those of daily deal sites or Google Travel, isn’t that they simply don’t have enough bandwidth and people to respond to your messages. It’s because they are overpaying for that bandwidth and that isn’t sustainable. My experience of Facebook shows that people still form relationships with people who happen to have a brand on Facebook and they don’t fill the void of relationships elsewhere.

At the same time, the services which they pay to update are providing economic value to people in almost every other form of real world communication. And these include the local banks, which are great repositories of what you are worth and also the investment bankers who know exactly what you are doing with your time. Instead of listing the form of the tools that you use on Facebook, the banks should be releasing no-margin material on how you use them and deciding which tools they should offer you. That should generate a lot more business value than anything Facebook would bring to the table.

Local banks generally have much higher staff turnovers and little or no relationship with the types of community people they bank with. Worse, these banks tend to be quite shortsighted and often terminate the relationships on the most obvious complaint of “they don’t deposit enough money”. Banks will almost certainly be deploying that tool in the very near future as their customers clearly have more to say about that problem. Facebook, for the moment, isn’t about to run out of steam.

Colin Barrett is editor of Mini Guardian

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