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How Facebook is Building a Social Media Monopoly

Facebook is basically a monopoly. The world’s most powerful social media company has seen its numbers stagnate in recent years as younger audiences continue to embrace smaller, more intimate social messaging platforms. In response, Facebook has combated this trend by introducing new features taken directly from its competitors. Now the ability to post jobs is the next new feature the company is rolling out.

Path to Dominance

The company’s vast resources allow it to take advantage of every new innovation and adapt it to fit Facebook’s needs. When pictures became the big new social medium, it bought Instagram. When messenger apps became the social interactions of the future, it purchased Whatsapp and introduced its own successful Facebook Messenger app. Now the company is integrating Messenger with bots that allow users to order a pizza or call an Uber.

When it wasn’t busy acquiring the competition, Facebook was copying what they did; new features, introduced to the market by other companies, executed more effectively. When live video received attention after the introduction of Periscope, Facebook Live overshadowed its competition to become the industry leader for live video. Facebook has even challenged Pinterest in the domain of social shopping by reintroducing Marketplace, introducing Facebook Canvas for businesses, and turning Instagram into a hub for shopping.

Facebook has tried to combat the popularity of Snapchat, the newcomer most likely to bring a challenge, but it has not been as easy. The social media giant has attempted to buy Snapchat in the past with no luck. The company has attempted to release clones of the app in order to push them out of the spotlight, but nothing has caught on so far. What seems to have worked best is the introduction of a story feature in Instagram and Snapchat filters on Facebook, but those have hardly put a dent into what Snap Inc. is doing right now.

Going Professional

At this point, the final frontier seems to be professional networking. The professional world of social media has always been dominated by LinkedIn, however, following the network’s acquisition by Microsoft and its recent lean toward more casual social experiences, Facebook looks to be pushing back. The recent introduction of Jobs on Facebook puts the behemoth right in LinkedIn’s path, and the new feature has the potential to sweep the legs right out from under the competition.

In order to speak to younger users who may be interested in a more casual job search experience, Jobs on Facebook is focusing on the underemployed, the freelancers, and the part-time job seekers. While LinkedIn remains the home for the more traditional job seekers, with focus given to skills and experience, Jobs on Facebook is targeting lower-skilled positions, transactional forms of work, and employers who are trying to better connect with a new base of future employees.

Right now, the two seem perfectly capable of coexisting and serving different purposes, but what happens if this new initiative takes off and it expands into full fledged job listings and professional connections? Facebook already collects professional data with the employment information it is trying to collect on user profiles. When applying to a job on the platform, prospective candidates can have that information populate onto the application. That’s how easy job searches could soon get. All you have to do is never leave Facebook again.

What Does the Future Hold?

Facebook now has its hands in all the pockets, so what is left for them to do? The company has invested heavily in new technologies and plans to adapt them to fit its platform. The high profile acquisition of Oculus was an important step in setting up for the future, however, virtual reality has been slow to go mainstream. Facebook can afford to wait for that market to come of age, but attention must be given elsewhere in the meantime.

If Facebook wants to set itself up as a digital empire—not just a social media monopoly—the company could look to do something similar to what Amazon has done: expand, drastically. Amazon has long moved beyond its initial product to offer customers nearly every online (and offline) service a company can provide.

While it seems unlikely Mark Zuckerberg goes that far out anytime soon, there is potential in the home assistance market and in artificial intelligence. Adding augmented reality to Instagram and Facebook Live also seems like a no-brainer for them. Wherever it goes from here, technology holds the key to the future.