Facebook is an ad agency; most of its revenue comes from selling ads. In fact, it’s the second biggest ad agency in the world, right after Google.
Facebook needs to grow in order to please investors with the coming and awaiting IPO this year. Facebook, just like Google and other tech businesses, is a data-driven company. Hell, they must have huge data sets. They’re such hot stuff in the information society, Facebook will have to host their data centers in the Arctic soon.
But back to the data business. Look at the metrics that Facebook regularly makes public; user engagement and time spent on site. More than half of Facebook users visit the site every day, and in the time spent on site parameter Facebook significantly beats other big competitors. These two figures represent key values that are supposed to grow in order to justify the current $100+ billion valuation of the company.
The new Timeline feature is a great example of how to keep visitors on site for longer. The Timeline is almost never-ending as you scroll down… much more exciting than the former boring profile, right? The same is true for the News Feed; the main page of Facebook. Interactive designers, engineers and social behavior scientists optimize this page. They test, measure, learn, improve and test again. The features that push engagement and time spent high stay on the site, the rest gets killed. And this cycle goes on and on.
So you might complain that your Facebook is cluttered with stupid pictures and cat videos, missing important updates. That might be the case. The pictures and videos – all the multimedia files in general – attract more Likes, Shares and comments, bringing back other curious friends eager to see the cute overload. It’s cheap but it pumps the numbers up on the graph.