The internet is an information delivery and communications platform, similar to the PSTN (landline), cellular, broadcast TV, radio, and print media platforms. In fact, the internet platform is here to replace them. That’s why it was created, and why the telecom industry was willing to make the investment to bring it to market as it is to date.
In this environment, a social network such as Facebook is technically a communications company. It could be an information distribution company, too, since the internet platform combines both. But your strongest play, being that what Facebook really does is facilitate the ability for people talking to people (kind of like the telephone), is communications.
Which is a good thing, because communications — unlike information delivery — hasn’t really-really disrupted just yet in the market, which means its a potentially nice big gray area. A company like yours, where billions of people are communicating with other people, could find itself in a pretty lucky position.
Given this, the name of the game for you isn’t to try to slap ads onto everything or trying to get content wedged into the picture, but to create other ways for people to expand on Facebook’s basic communications tool with each other. Ideally, you should charge for this. First because your users would likely pay for the ability to use certain communications tools, which is called ‘value added service model’ and has worked in communications platform business for many decades. But also because ad-only revenue model is and has always been the weakest monetization option in information delivery platform business for many decades as well. It has never been an option in communications. Which is probably why advertisers are talking about how Facebook ads don’t work, etc.
Granted, taking this approach is going to make you open season for carriers, who own the very infrastructure Facebook needs to exist (as Facebook owns no internet infrastructure of its own to date). If you think the government will protect the software companies like yours on the internet in net neutrality, just remember how proactive its been in preventing companies from polluting the water we all need to exist.
But, you may be able to partner with a carrier. In fact, if you do make it one that can offer both voice calls and cable/information distribution and you’ll have both areas on the platform covered.
One last thing, if you are pushing around developers that are building on your software, just remember you, too, sit in someone else’s garden – and unlike the app developers (who can go elsewhere, or create things stand alone that compete with you), without the internet platform itself (which you do not own either), Facebook would cease to exist. You never know when the day might come where the owners of the infrastructure might come for what’s theirs.
Also, I personally appreciate your sense of style. +1 for being authentic.