Facebook exploring opportunities to sell premium services for businesses

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By Brittany Darwell Comments

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told CNBC today that the company is looking at opportunities to sell premium services for businesses.

“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, we’ve suspected that the company could be making a play into providing CRM or data management solutions.

For example, in August, we saw Facebook put out a call for Product Marketing Manager, Monetization: “an expert in data management platforms” who will “develop our plans and vision for how we can enable businesses to better reach their customers and prospects on Facebook.”

Data management platforms help advertisers organize their first party data (web analytics, CRM), second party data (from strategic partners that can match CRM records or cookies) and third party data (such as from Acxiom or Datalogix) to improve their advertising efforts. Facebook is uniquely positioned to enter this space considering the wealth of data it has in each of these areas. It has already gotten into the ad exchange market with FBX and has started matching CRM data with Custom Audiences. The company has also begun working with Datalogix to understand how Facebook ads impact offline sales.

Facebook might also be interested in offering its own CRM system. In March Facebook added a listing for a Software Engineer, Sales/Marketing Tools with the job description:

“The Sales/Marketing Tools team is inventing the future of Social CRM (Customer Relationship Management). We work closely with Product, Engineering, Sales, and Marketing teams to design and develop a suite of applications for large advertisers, media agencies, and Facebook’s global sales force.”

Another listing for a Front End Software Engineer, Sales Tools, added at the same time, includes a similar description and the question, “Are you intrigued with applying the concepts of newsfeed, social, and leader boards to business applications?” The listing also mentions “building enterprise applications using social and gamification techniques.”

Since July, Facebook has been looking for an Executive Briefing Center Manager to develop strategy and lead execution for the company’s new program to build relationships and win over new partners and advertisers. Executive briefing centers are areas for large companies to show off their technology and understand the business needs of potential customers or partners.

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.”