Facebook Takes Over the World

Facebook is making sure that it becomes the hub through which all web interaction flows.  This week, at the f8 conference, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled his new plan, Open Graph, which will allow Facebook users to turn any web page into a Facebook page.  The idea is to tie all the individual social graphs around different Web properties into one larger whole – presumably the user’s Facebook page.  If you can “like” any page, any product, any thing on the web at all, that essentially turns the entire web into a social network.  Facebook also introduced a toolbar that publishers can put at the bottom of their page to provide what Facebook Director of Platform Product Bret Taylor called an “all-in-one social experience” packaging the “Like” button, Facebook chat and friend list information. If you are on a web page that is new to you, you can see which of your friends have already been there. So the Open Graph will function much like a Pandora of the whole web – it will be the online memory of everything you like and don’t like in music, books, movies, products, etc.  This is a very big thing.  For marketers, it’s really a boon, because it provides a more interactive experience between businesses and their customers.  Here’s an example from eMarketer :

…someone could visit ESPN.com, “Like” a football player participating in the NFL draft, and then receive a notification back from ESPN (via their Facebook news feed) alerting them to what happened to that person during the draft. In other words, the “Like” option takes a familiar Facebook activity—in this case, clicking a button to become a fan—and gives it a much more wide reaching effect, one that extends to a brand’s Website or anywhere a brand’s assets exist.

But here’s the rub, according to Time:

The company has more than 400 million users, and implementing the ‘Like’ functionality requires just a few lines of code. Don’t be surprised when you start seeing the buttons and your friends’ pictures everywhere you go on the Web.”  The possibilities for extremely targeted marketing are endless, but the privacy issue could be a sticking point for many who are already dubious about Facebook’s privacy practices, or lack thereof.  While the “Like” button acts as an opt-in, you aren’t really going to have a choice about what happens once you click it.

At much the same time that Facebook revealed that it was partnering with Microsoft for their new Docs.com project, a web-based document editor enables  users to see, edit and share their written material with their Facebook friends.

So now, the whole web is your Facebook page, your documents are connected to your Facebook page – how about your clothing?  A new hoodie, called Ping, which is  still in the concept phase,  ais designed to allow the owner to customize gestures among friends. For example, the wearer might feel a tap on the shoulder when a comment is left on their Wall or be able to change a setting when a button is buttoned or zipper zipped. Says FastCompany – “Actions as simple as lifting or dropping the hood can be used to send status updates and messages on Facebook, with the potential to target certain groups of friends.”

With all this social media all over the place, literally, does the engagement that companies have with users really amount to anything?  Yes, says Nielsen (in a study with Facebook among Facebook users). The study found that ads with social media context, defined as “lightweight endorsements from friends displayed within the ad units,” increased ad recall by 1.6 times that of ads without the endorsements; increased brand awareness by 2.0 times; and increased purchase intent by an unspecified amount.

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