No matter how you feel about Mark Zuckerberg Facebook is an internet success story that’s very tough to argue against.

The ubiquitous social network already has more than one in seven human beings on its roster and is projecting 2014 revenue to be somewhere around $5 billion.

A success story of this scale offers a little bit of instruction for everyone, including sportsbook operators and affiliates. That the premise of an intriguing article on by Bet Smart Media CEO, Jesse Learmonth titled, What Sportsbooks Can Learn from Facebook’s Product Strategy.

Learnmonth delves deep into the essence of Facebook and (spoiler alert) determines that companies who can effectively market standalone mobile apps are the ones that can enjoy some degree of Facebook-style success (plus or minus a few billion anyways). Here are a few of his insights.

What is Facebook

First and foremost, Learmonth takes on the challenging question of what Facebook is really trying to do these days. He points out that the massive social site is taking on the impossible task of being everything to everyone, all at once.

Is Facebook a photo sharing site because it purchased Instagram? Is it a top-tier messaging service because it recently added WhatsApp to its portfolio? When you’re trying to do this many things all at once, integrating them into an effective product isn’t all that easy.

For that reason, Facebook has been focusing its product development efforts on stand-alone apps that are proving to be very successful. The best example of this phenomenon is the wildly successful Facebook mobile app.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

Last year, Facebook saw its mobile traffic jump a whopping 60% over the previous year as smart phone penetration went deeper than ever. Part of that success story is based on the fact that Facebook’s mobile app offers a unique, and consistent, experience that doesn’t exactly mirror its desktop presence.

That distinction, says Learnmonth is something sportsbook operators and affiliates should be paying close attention to. He says too many operators are making the mistake of mimicking the desktop experience instead of offering something truly new and unique.

Though it’s a pretty gimmicky product, William Hill’s Shake-a-Bet app is a good example of the kind of innovation Learnmonth is talking about. Shake-a-Bet offers an experience that desktop apps simply can’t match.

And operators need to do a bit more than just providing the basics. As Learnmouth puts it, “…the operator that ultimately wins the market over the long-term won’t be the one that satisfactorily adapts to the present, but will be the one that gets ahead of the curve and plans tomorrow’s product strategy today.”

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