Facebook planning CRM tools for brands?

02/10/2012

Facebook could be branching out from its core advertising revenues with plans to offer firms that have pages on the site with a range of ‘premium services’, such as customer relationship management (CRM) tools and search functions, according to a news report. Speaking to US TV network CNBC, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said that the company is looking at opportunities to sell premium services for businesses.

Premium options, which would be added to free features that now let businesses and groups create and manage pages for fans on Facebook’s site, may include analytics, support services and other functions, said Brandon McCormick, a spokesman for Facebook, after Sandberg’s interview on CNBC today.

“As we increase our investment in monetization, we’re thinking about premium services for business,” Sandberg said. “We’ve heard from businesses all over the world that they want more from us. There are things they’d pay for they really want us to provide. So it’s an area that we’re currently starting to explore.”

Sandberg didn’t offer any specific examples, though CNBC suggested “analytics or customer service” in its reports. Based on job listings posted to Facebook’s careers site over the past few months, the company could be making a play into providing CRM or data management solutions.

Sandberg wasn’t specific about the size of the opportunity for the premium services it is considering, but she said the company believes its potential in any area is “really big because of our sheer size and scale.”

Sandberg also said a new iPhone app launched in August is “boosting engagement”, and insisted the company is now “more valuable” than at the time of its May IPO, despite its shares sliding more than 40%.

The company, whose stock has plunged more than 40 percent since its initial public offering in May, has been facing investor questions about its ability to make money from its more than 950 million users.

The company, which gets most of its revenue from advertising, in July said sales growth slowed to 32 percent in the second quarter after rising 45 percent in the prior period.

Still, Facebook is “more valuable” than when the company held its IPO, Sandberg said on CNBC.

Read the CNBC report (with video) here

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