What Facebook Should Be Building

Facebook has a big launch event on Tuesday. Here are nine things I think it may be working on, or at least should be. We’ve heard tips that some of these are already in development and may be released soon, while the rest could fill big holes in Facebook. Even if none of them hit the stage on Tuesday, they probably will eventually, and the list offers a deep look at what Facebook could improve right now.
What this list doesn’t include is wildly forward-thinking products. Facebook should definitely still be trying to blow people away with revolutionary innovation. But right now there are cracks in the infrastructure, business deficiencies, and huge opportunities to apply its data set that need to be taken care of.

Facebook Search — For Businesses, Posts, And People

Mark Zuckerberg explained at TechCrunch Disrupt that Facebook already had a team working on search, and that it’s uniquely suited to answer questions like “What’s a good sushi restaurant in San Francisco?” by using data about your friends. Search could help Facebook apply the information to help users. It’s also critical to the future of Facebook’s bottom line because when you search for something, you’re showing purchase intent. Facebook could make big bucks selling sponsored placement to advertisers who want to reach you right before you decide what to buy.
Facebook took a big step in this direction by launching Nearby within its mobile apps. The local business search helps you find places your friends recommend. But the feature is buried as a tab on mobile and doesn’t exist on the web. A web interface for Nearby or a standalone mobile app could bring it a lot more usage.
Searching updates from friends or public posts by the rest of the world is also very clumsy now. Facebook could add a new channel for content discovery by improving this and adding Twitter-style trending topics.
Facebook People Search
Then there’s people search. Despite Facebook knowing all the intimate details of your friends or people you’d want to connect with, its people search feature is pretty terrible. The Find Friends browser is buried several tiny links deep within the Friend Requests interface and doesn’t exist in its mobile app. That makes it very tough to track down real-life contacts you want to friend unless you know their full names. Helping people forge these connections locks users into Facebook and delivers them more content so they visit more frequently.
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