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Social sites make push for mobile content

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Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has redesigned its Pages service to allow users to find business and merchant information on mobile devices, according to a 2013 Bloomberg report. Aspects of the social site could soon resemble local directory listings from Foursquare, Yelp, and Google.

Pages lets vendors use the social networking site to communicate with customers, provide offers and discounts, and showcase products. This section of the social site will transform into a mobile shopping portal. Along with other changes, the upgrade will enable mobile shoppers to preview a merchant’s product or service through video apps.

Facebook is positioning itself as a source for business addresses and hours of operation for its 1.06 billion users. The directory will create new revenue streams, and is considered a preemptive move that will lay the groundwork for monetizing web-based transactions through affiliate sales and advertising partnerships – similar to Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN).

The Menlo Park-based company isn’t alone in this initiative. Other social sites have been frantically pushing for mobile content, distribution, and advertising in order to adapt to changing user preferences. Earlier this month, LinkedIn announced its $90 million acquisition of Pulse, which is a news aggregator, reader, and mobile content distribution platform. Pulse was founded in 2010 by two students at Stanford University, and is a platform for content consumption on the Internet.

Studies show that LinkedIn, with 200 million members, is the most popular social site for companies. However, it currently lacks a compelling mobile presence that is expected to limit its revenue-generating potential. LinkedIn’s drive for mobile content is placing pressure on copycat corporate-themed sites such as the Forbes-owned Kaleio.

Indeed, leaders in the social space (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest) will need to fend off smaller challengers seeking to imitate established formulas, and thus, replicate their success. That calls for incorporating features (i.e., mobile) that will allow Facebook and LinkedIn – given their much larger budgets – to differentiate itself from the pack.

As is often said, defense is the best offense.

Facebook has been focusing its recent efforts to offer mobile services, advertising, and content as users switch their online platforms from desktops to smartphones and tablets. Within the past month, the company announced that it is working with major retailers to track its users’ purchasing behavior. Under this program, shopping data will be synced with a user’s profile for the purpose of displaying customized ads.

Facebook is also building relationships with companies and merchants in order to ramp up its pool of advertisers. Strategically, a redesigned Pages section will establish the world’s largest social networking site as a credible purveyor of mobile ads for corporate clients.