What the Facebook IPO Means for Government Agencies

All last week it couldn’t be avoided – every newspaper, TV station, magazine was talking about the Facebook IPO.

But I never did read much on what it means to GovLoopers…i.e. what the Facebook IPO means for government agencies.

So here we go, Steve’s list on what the Facebook IPO means for government agencies:

1) More interesting data – Now that Facebook is public, every quarter it will release a quarterly report that should be filled with interesting data on # of users, # of mobile users, and general trend. This data is a great snapshot of the trends overall in digital engagement as Facebook is such a large player. Pay attention to these numbers.

2) More lobbying – Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Facebook has already started to beef up it’s DC office (and in capitals across the country). The larger you get, the more likely you are going to run into government issues around privacy, security, and monopoly. Microsoft dealt with these issue once it grew in size, same with Google as it grew…Facebook is up next

3) More monetization – The blessing and curse of Facebook for government agencies is that it is free at its core service (most agencies don’t advertise much). As Facebook matures as a business, it is going to continue to have to find more ways to monetize its audience (from mobile advertisement, Google adsense model, focus on credits). As government agencies don’t pay Facebook for its services, it’s going to have a hard time pushing back on Facebook if it disagrees with these changes. So keep an eye on what’s going on.

4) More help? Good luck – While many gov’t employees wish there was more support for Facebook pages, I don’t think the Facebook IPO is going to mean more support for your troubles with your Facebook page. Facebook has a great DC staff and a great Facebook page for government agencies but at it’s most basic level it’s a small team that’s limited in resources and scope. If you have issues, use your GovLoop or other gov’t network to talk to other agencies with the same issues

5) And in the end…not much – Generally, I think people overestimate the short-term and under-estimate the long term. In the short-term, Facebook is not going to change much. Zuckerberg has the company focused on creating great product and they really pay attention to the users. So don’t freak out too much. But definitely pay attention as over the next 2-3 years, Facebook will introduce both new features and also new monetization models and government agencies will have to figure out how to play together.

What do you think? Will Facebook change after the IPO?

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Samuel Lovett

I foresee government absolutely having a hard time dealing with Facebook’s push to monetize its product. Right now, using Facebook is a no-brainer for government agencies. Even if then just open an account and occasionally pump out a few posts, there are so few downsides to having an account and having your name out there.

Facebook will have to make it clear to government agencies that they will retain total control over the advertising associated with their name if they, the agencies, are to continue using social media with comfort.

Chris Cairns

Good analysis. I never gave much thought as to how Facebook would change and what that’d mean to government agencies. Perhaps Facebook will turn all that social data into some useful for government agencies, particularly those ones that do social media monitoring / digital brand management.

Christopher Whitaker

I hate to point this out because I’ve been really negative on this sort of this as of late – but the incentive for the best and the brightest minds is to go into ADVERTISING.

For less money that Facebook bought Instragram, Elon Musk just launched a rocket into space. Why arn’t we doing more of THIS type of thing?? NASA’s been great for SpaceX, but what about innovation in every other industry that actually produces a good? In the face of Facebook’s IPO, I think we’re asking the wrong questions.