First Stages of A Feature War: Facebook for Businesses Unveiled

Facebook has a new tutorial to set up small and medium businesses on the social platform for success. Dubbed Facebook for Business, the page is an “education center” that teaches businesses how to create Pages, advertisements, Sponsored Stories and Facebook Platform, which covers apps, social plugins and Facebook Credits. Anybody who has spent any time on Facebook knows that these are not particularly hard things to do but the news is interesting in the light of Google kicking brands off Google Plus last week.

Facebook for Business looks almost exactly like Facebook for Journalists, an initiative that the company rolled out last month to help reporters, writers, TV and radio personalities set up their own pages to post content and be “Liked” without making their personal profiles public. It seems a touch odd that Facebook would focus on journalists first and not businesses, as it is far more likely that businesses would buy ads to promote their products on the store front, whereas only the most hardcore of personal branding journalists buy any type of ads. Yet, it may be a matter of targeting online influencers first.

Facebook is playing the role of reactionary right now, keeping a keen eye on what Google Plus is up to. Facebook has never really had to pay attention to what others were doing on a large scale. FriendFeed did a better news feed than Facebook, so Facebook just bought them. Twitter was a bit of a problem with the idea of the status update, but the two have wound up coexisting nicely without resorting to a feature war (which Twitter could not win).

That is exactly what we have right now between Facebook and Google Plus – a feature war. Plus, in and of itself, is a reactionary move from Google, with features designed to take advantage of Facebook’s vulnerabilities, such as Circles (privacy) and Hangout (video chat) and news feed (the “bump” system, where Google may actually be losing). Facebook is beginning to punch back, starting with the Skype video chat integration and now with Facebook for Business.

What is the next front of the war? Facebook’s dip into mobile and HTML5 looks like it will be the big battle of the struggle (which brings Apple, Microsoft and HP into the mix). Payments will also be a front. Until that gauntlet gets thrown down, expect a lot of little skirmishes like this one between Facebook and Google Plus in the battle for the hearts and minds of users across the world.

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