First Take Analysis: Facebook’s Crusade of Colonization

Today marks yet another important era in Facebook’s saga, they are expected to make a big push to extend the Facebook experience to every webpage.

Today, I attended the f8 developer conference hosted by Facebook, they’ve made some key announcements on what they want their developers to do.  While there’s a lot of news sources and bloggers rehashing what was announced, I’d like to go a step deeper and talk about the ecosystem impacts, opportunities and threats, and provide some insights.  Here’s my take:

Matrix: Facebook’s Crusade of Colonization
I just finished watching the keynote, while there’s a lot of folks rehashing news, my goal is to tell you what it means, and the impacts it has.

Announcement What It Is Opportunities Threats What No One Tells You
Graph API An open protocol that’s designed to aggregate all social activities from your friend back to Facebook This makes Facebook a social inbox, regardless of the service: Pandora, Yelp, your corporate site Email providers like Gmail/Buzz, Microsoft Windows Live, Yahoo, and AOL all want to be those destinations, now competing with 500mm users in FB Facebook wants to be the starting point for your world –the new email inbox. If they turn on advanced search tools, this can threaten google.com
Social Plugins: “Like” button Allows website managers to quickly embed ‘like’ feature on website, like other social features. This will aggregate on FB, and is a form of social bookmarks As users go to websites (Like CNN) they can see which one of their real friends like which article. Now your friends are the editors, threatening traditional editorial process. Threat to social bookmarking tools like Delicious All this social aggregated content will yield a powerful database of what you and your friends like, the precursor to customized web experiences and social advertising.
Social Plugins: “Social Bar” A floating bar at the bottom of a webpage embedded by simple code allows for EVERY page to be quickly social. Everywhere you go online your friends can be with you, forever connected Google Side Wiki,Meebo, and Liveworld’s Livebar (unless they both integrate Facebook FB API). Disclosure: Liveworld is a client Now as every page can be social, there is no reason for consumers to make buying mistakes –their friends opinions are always there, diminishing power of marketers.
Docs.com A partnership with Microsoft that allows Microsoft office docs to now be social with your Facebook friend This can extend collaboration with your friends to the office environment Unsure if this use case makes sense, are your friends those you want to collaborate with? This is a direct threat to Google Docs Facebook and Microsoft are in bed, to team up against Google. Expect advertising based on social context to appear soon.
“Presence” Location based data Facebook handed out in every attendees page an RFID tag that allows you to swipe it at kiosks to indicate your locations, see mine. Although experimental expect this to extend to location base applications, eventually tying into credit cards, and mobile devices Location based social networks like Yelp, Gowalla, MyTown, Foursquare and Twitter already allow people to do this –the difference?  Add these chips to physical objects Expect this technology to extend to mobile phones, credit cards, and future consumer products –allowing for unique social interactions.

War Horn Sounded For Developers To Spread Facebook Experience:

  • A Precursor to Social CRM. All of the social data that is now being aggregated to Facebook is the foundation for Social CRM.  As Facebook captures each  ’object’ whether it be a song, restaurant, person, or ‘like’ they are now assigning a Facebook ID (primary key).  This unique identifier will allow every person, object, and piece of media to be trackable and have associated metadata.  In the future, expect these objects to be used by developers to quickly assemble experience in context, right on the fly.
  • Corporate websites can now be social –yet beware the tradeoffs. Corporate websites are plagued with inflexible archaic content management systems. Rather than wait for IT to develop a social roadmap for the corporate website, brands can now embed Facebook social features on corporate sites, serving up interaction and allowing users to find content their friends also like.  Yet beware, by allowing Facebook to be the primary login, this reduces the traditional way of capturing leads and populating your database.  Secondly, by doing this once, you’re setting the promise that Facebook will always be part of our corporate experience.
  • Facebook goes more public, and threatens Google –but users may revolt. Facebook’s roaring growth is a threat to Google and other web portals, and as more developers deploy these hooks, they spread their colonies all over the internet.  Yet Facebook’s core conundrum is they’ve made the promise to their users to keep the experience private and closed. Expect continued scrutiny over privacy as Facebook struggles to go open to compete with Google, dragging along users to be more public every step of the way.   Facebook’s battles are both external as well as internal.


Above: I spoke with WSJ Digits Video Show, you’ll find me just after 6 minutes in, and also shared quotes in LATimes, NYT, SF Chronicle, San Jose Mercury, Computerworld, BBC, MacWorld, Mediapost and others