As Facebook marks its 10th anniversary, USA TODAY Network examines what the social network with 1.2 billion users worldwide must do to stay on top in the next decade.
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1. Focus on mobile
The future for Facebook will be primarily about mobile, says Jeremy Liew, a partner with Lightspeed Venture Partners and investor in Snapchat and Whisper.
Sites such as Google, Yahoo and Facebook try to be a one-stop destination on the Web, providing news, games, maps and more.
But the mobile landscape is different. The approach for companies like Facebook must be to continue to create apps that focus on a single idea, Liew says. Facebook is already moving in that direction, with single-service apps like Facebook Messenger and Instagram.
On Monday, Facebook introduced its Paper news app. It combines key features of the social network with a news reader, packaging it all together in a Flipboard-style layout. It's the first app from the company's Creative Labs unit, which intends to launch more apps.
"You don't have the real estate on the phone screen," Liew said in an interview with USA TODAY Network. "As a result, this idea you can be all things to all people on the Web doesn't really apply."
In ad sales, Facebook is grabbing a larger share of revenues from mobile ads. In the latest quarterly figures, Facebook's mobile sales contributed 53% of its ad revenue, the first time they've been the majority of sales.
Facebook could consider expanding into e-commerce by providing back-end services for businesses, or selling goods, whether physical or digital, says Brian Blau, research director in consumer technologies for Gartner Inc., a technology research firm.
Last year, Facebook acquired Parse, offering tools for developing mobile apps. The purchase was a departure for Facebook. It was the first product acquired by the social network that's a for-sale service, Blau tells USA TODAY Network.
As Facebook expands globally, the types of goods and services it acquires could depend on the needs of a particular region. For example, in Asia, users have "more of a propensity to play games," Blau says.
These acquisitions would be alternatives to social networking but at the same time have "complementary business lines," he says.
3. Satisfy marketers
With its vast reach and specialized data on people's preferences, Facebook has the potential to redefine how companies target and market to customers on the Web. That hasn't happened yet.
"The Facebook (advertising) product is just another place to buy banner ads," says Nate Elliott, vice president and principal analyst for Forrester Research.
Companies are more satisfied with Google, LinkedIn and Yahoo as marketing partners than they are with Facebook, according to a 2013 Forrester Research survey of 395 marketers in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Despite the dissatisfaction with Facebook ads' return on investment, most large companies still market on the social network because of its reach, according to the Forrester report.
However, if Facebook does not improve the marketing experience online, the repercussions could be that companies migrate to other social network sites to buy ads, the report says.
4. Privacy concerns
The demands of satisfying both marketers and users may be at odds with each other.
"Because of Facebook's business model, people share information with their friends and Facebook then makes that information available to advertisers. But that's a problem form a privacy perspective," Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, tells USA TODAY Network.
Under a consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission in 2012, Facebook has committed to implementing opt-in options for new features, instead of requiring users to opt out of new features. Facebook also agreed to better security measures and more transparency about how it collects and uses people's data.
Part of the problem, however, is "there isn't a lot users can do to protect their privacy online if companies are changing the terms and conditions," Rotenberg says.
Users also have concerns about how others share and upload their information, according to recent Pew Research Center survey findings. Thirty-six percent of survey respondents said they "strongly dislike" people posting their personal information without permission.
"This is particularly prominent among parents with other people posting pictures of your children," says Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center.
Facebook, Rotenberg says, still has "a long way to go" to establish greater user trust that their online privacy is protected.
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