Creating and managing your online business requires you to follow the same basic principals of any business - relying on sound Business Strategies. There are however, a few practices that differ or that just are unique to an online business. Here we share our views and experience with you to help you develop a more effective and profitable online business.

How US$1b company revenue stream impacted by Facebook changes

We are all used to Facebook making changes to their site and this may not always be to your advantage. By now we have all got used to (or should have anyhow) to Timeline for Facebook rolled out on the 30th March this year. How many of you had custom TABS for promoting your business , signing up customers, displaying your own custom HTML content. They were terrific weren't they? Many businesses in vested heavily in these and used this channel as a large part of their brand awareness and brand building strategy. For 3 particular companies in the US, Vitrue (acquired by Oracle (ORCL) for $300 million in May), Context Optional (acquired for $50 million in May 2011) and Buddy Media (acquired by Salesforce (CRM) for $689 million in June) are dedicated to customizing those very tabs for corporate and enterprise clients. 

Just those three companies alone are valued at more than $1 billion. When Facebook changed to Timeline layout, almost overnight those companies a significant part of the business model for these companies was severely impacted. All of a sudden thousands of clients her relied on a specific feature of a third party provider lost their marketing channel. No longer would Facebook let you set a TAB as the default landing page on your Facebook profile. The TAB facility still exists but it is now minimised and not so accessible so as the marketing tool it once was is now no longer.

What is the lesson here. it is not about use of Facebook but the (misplaced) reliance you can put with certain third party resources. You are at the whim of their  agenda and in this case, continuing with the TAB function as it was for Facebook was not their priority and too bad for you.

Many businesses came to rely on this as a key branding tool and even as a means for generating leads, creating marketing databases and even running competitions. The list of uses these TABS were put to was up to the imagination alone and they were very successful for many.

We are not suggesting in any way that Timeline is a bad decision, it has many great features and benefits, what we are saying is be careful how much you invest in technologies and products over which you have no control but strong reliance. In the arena of social media they have a history of ever changing and none more so than Facebook.

Our advice - Don't rely on these and when you do use such products keep yourself abreast of changes and understand how those changes impact your business.

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