enormous problem

Facebook: Photo sharing and premium accounts

The IPO is only one of the many things that are changing rapidly on Facebook. People are starting to point out that there's a huge problem at the very core of Facebook: It's an ad-driven site. And like all ad-driven sites, it has an enormous problem: People are so ridiculously blind to online advertising, that even with the incredible possibilities of putting your adverts right in front of the people who would, in theory, be interested in them, you're barking up the wrong tree. Online advertising, quite simply, is working less and less, and eventually the advertisers are going to realise this, and take their advertising spend and using it differently.

Facebook knows this. They are run by clever people, and post-IPO Facebook has plenty of money to hire more clever people. They've seen this one coming for a long time. And they're nearly ready with their response.

Premium accounts & photo sharing

In parallel with the bottom falling out of the advertising market, there are a few sites that are positively thriving; and many of them are photo- and video related. Vimeo, Flickr and 500px have all gone the free-then-premium-account route, and are making quite a lot of money in the process.

So, premium memberships are one of the potentially incredibly lucrative things that Facebook could offer - but what can they offer, that people haven't yet been used to getting for free?

The core service of Facebook will always remain free: Status updates, events and invitations, and the ever-embarrassing stream of breakups and social drama will continue as it has.

Making sense of Instagram

The big shift is what has been starting to show up on Facebook in other avenues: That change will be premium accounts, and it's going to happen within the end of the year.

The brand new Facebook Camera and the recent Instagram acquisition simply don't make any sense in the larger context of Facebook... Unless there is also another change coming.

Instagram, especially, is one of the apps that has attracted a very large user base of mostly casual photographers. Not only that; but casual photographers who are willing to spend money. A perfect place to start building the brand new service, in other words.

Facebook, with only minor changes to their platform, will be a huge competitor to the Vimeo, Flickr and 500px platforms of the worlds; perhaps not for high-end photographers, but certainly for serious amateurs and semi-professionals who want a solid platform to show off their photography.

The benefit is obvious: When Facebook makes this leap, photographers and video-makers no longer have to invite their audiences to a separate site to view their work: You could simply invite your friends directly, from within the familiar walled garden that is Facebook.