Facebook Evolving Into Platform

Rafat Ali picks up on rumors reported in the WSJ that Facebook will be making an announcement this week about a new platform strategy:

[from paidContent.org: The Economics of Content – Facebook Moving to An Open Platform Strategy]

Facebook will announce a new strategy to let other companies provide their services on special pages within its site, moving beyond its basic social networking service. These companies will be able to link into Facebook users’ networks of online friends…an example it cites is where a media company could let groups of users share news articles with each other on a page inside Facebook. The firm currently has no plans to share revenue with the companies that develop services to run on Facebook’s platform, but the main draw would be visibility and access to users of the Facebook site.

WSJ says this could turn the site into a bigger portal-like play, though that’s probably overstating it.

I don’t agree with Rafat, but I also don’t go with the ‘portal’ concept. As we move toward a traffic-and-flow model of interaction on the new web – and Facebook is a leading example of that style of app – then it won’t be so much like a portal play, where people will flock to special areas on Facebook. Instead, new services can be screwed into Facebooks platform so that user can direct traffic to flow from their profiles out to their network of contacts.

For example, imagine that someone has devised a marketing search tool, and configured it to run on the Facebook platform. I could access ‘reportlets’ from this hypothetical tool on topics of interest to me and have them stream through my profile with commentary from me added. Rather than people visiting the Facebook site, this stuff would largely flow to my network’s desktops or browsers. Perhaps they might click through to an occasionally interesting story, leading them to some page at Facebook, or a page in the hypothetical marketing tool company’s service within Facebook. But the general rule would be about traffic flowing through individuals to their networks, and only occasionally would people break from the flow back to pages.

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