Commentary

With the Open Graph, Facebook Becomes the Entire Web's Friend

I never thought I'd say such a thing, but Mark Zuckerberg just rocked my world. And, whether you know it or not, he just rocked your world, too.

 I just finished watching the keynote at Facebook's F8 Developer Conference -- from the comfort of my dining room table -- and it became pretty clear that the Web as we once knew it is about to change dramatically, from a place where much of the experience is disjointed and almost completely determined by those who publish content, to being much more about how the content connects people -- and how people connect to content. (You can watch the archived Webcast here.)

 Let me explain. The main thrust of the keynote -- which was delivered by Zuckerberg and Friendfeed founder (and FB director of products) Bret Taylor -- is that Facebook is going to transform the Web into a social being, where the footprints of you, and your friends, the brands you like, and the band you love will all be part of the experience, all of the time. The Web has been showing a few signs of socialization for some time, but we're not talking about simple old Facebook Connect here. We are talking about something that socializes the Web in a much deeper way. Hyperbole? I don't think so. There are three reasons why:

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 1) Becoming part of Facebook's Open Graph requires next to nothing on the part of the user. Assuming you want social to be the default switch, so to speak, when you're online, you will automatically see, for instance, who else among your friends has "Liked" a certain Web page when you visit that page. Go to Pandora (which was a frequent example used during the presentation) and it won't just recommend music for you that you've shown an interest in elsewhere on the Web, it will also tell you what friends of yours who are also Pandora members are listening to, without you lifting a finger.

 2) From a technological perspective, enabling the site for Facebook's new "Like" button is brain-dead easy, even for an English and Latin major like myself. I could go to my own Web site right now and merely paste in a line of code to integrate "Like" buttons (think of it as the new "Become a Fan") into my template, and that feature would be good to go. Anyone who stops by my site who likes my content would be sharing it to their Facebook stream automatically, without doing a thing. It would also enter that person's profile, automatically, with a link back to my site. Suffice to say, this will make copying and pasting hyperlinks look like drawing on cave walls. (Based on ease of use alone, Zuckerberg predicted that Facebook will serve one billion "likes" today.) 

3) Facebook is closing in on 500 million users, per comScore. Even taking into account what may be a relatively large percentage of users who will not want to be quite so, well, open, about their online behavior, Facebook has critical mass that no other social network can match. That, and the defaults, will ensure Facebook's vision for an openly social Web will happen. (It also is launching these features with major partners including Microsoft, CNN and ESPN. That doesn't hurt either.)

 There's so much here that it's a little hard to synthesize within the time that a tight deadline allows. All I can say is that something major just happened in our business, so be forewarned. The Social Media Insider says so.

(Editor's Note: We have posted the agenda for OMMA Social NYC, scheduled for June 17. Take a look.)

5 comments about "With the Open Graph, Facebook Becomes the Entire Web's Friend".
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  1. Lisa Foote from MixMobi, April 21, 2010 at 4:44 p.m.

    Catharine - Another insightful post, thanks. You dig in beyond the hype and think through ease of use and real impact. When you say something is important, I pay attention.
    I'd love to see you do a post on the percentage of those age 18 - 34 who are on Facebook throughout SE Asia and what this might predict for the rest of the world (over 80% in many countries).

  2. Rich Reader from WOMbuzz, April 21, 2010 at 4:59 p.m.

    In a simple act of F8, Open Graph will supercharge the footprint and impact of our recommendations upon each other. http://bit.ly/a1bpY1

  3. Michelle Bonat from RumbaFish, April 21, 2010 at 6:43 p.m.

    Not sure yet if Facebook Open Graph is rather more open or spooky. Is the default switch on or off? I suppose it sounds good until it is your own personal info. We asked millennials how they want to interact with brands and here is what they told us ... you be the judge http://bit.ly/MillennialManifesto

  4. David Berkowitz from MRY, April 21, 2010 at 8:05 p.m.

    Well crafted in record time.

  5. Anne Peterson from Idaho Public Televsion, April 22, 2010 at 6:58 p.m.

    You must opt out and I did (I think).

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