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Why Facebook Wants Your Business to Build an App

Not every one needs an app. Not every app needs to be social. But Facebook just provided a lot more motivation for marketers to include a social hook in any app made for Facebook and mobile devices. Why Facebook Wants your Business to Build an App

Reporting from the F8 Developers’ Conference in September, David Berkowitz of Ad Age says Facebook will soon generate a billion social actions every hour. The boost has to do with changes to Open Graph.

As Berkowitz explains,

Applications using Facebook’s Open Graph now can ask for permissions to persistently post to a user’s Facebook profile, which has been rebranded as the Timeline. Better still, the actions themselves can be customized. Rather than simply ‘liking’ a story or page, Nike+ users can say they ‘ran’ a certain distance, or FoodSpotting users can say they ‘spotted’ a dish.

Nike+ Social App

Nike+ Facebook Social App

Foodspotting Mobile Social App

Mobile Facebook Foodspotting App

What’s Open Graph?

At the core of Facebook is the social graph, the connections people have with all the things they care about. Facebook created Open Graph protocol so that the social graph could include pages people “liked” anywhere on the web.

Open Graph protocol is metadata, or “data about data.” And Facebook is currently extending Open Graph to include arbitrary actions and objects created by mobile apps. Just as the “like” button has spread to websites far and wide, the arbitrary “likes” expressed in apps will now be part of the Facebook experience, as well.

More Than Likes

As Mark Zuckerberg says, Open Graph metadata “puts personal and semantic meaning behind the Web — I like this band. I am attending this event.” Or “ate” here or “spotted” that. The list of potential verbs stretches as far as the imagination, giving data more nuance and granularity.

Open Graph also may challenge the idea of traditional search engines themselves. By linking Facebook to all other websites with the “like” button, Facebook moved into second place behind Google in traffic.

So what will happen when Facebook links to apps with more and more “like”-like verbs? As Berkowitz stated, a billion actions per hour, a new kind of interactive social search engine.

If You Don’t Have A Facebook App, You’ve Disappeared

That’s why companies and marketers are rushing to make them: Many believe that customer actions on Facebook and mobile devices connected to Facebook will become the new standard for searching and finding information. Not just a standard, but an entirely new form of the web, really.

Enough companies are rushing into the app market that apps have become easier than ever to make, too. Companies like San Francisco’s Involver make a wide range of ready-to-use app packages.

  • Professional level apps include ways to customize your company’s Facebook Welcome tab and bring in all your content from blogs, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.
  • Business level apps include ways for customers to add your badges to their Facebook page or an app for gifts.
  • Enterprise level apps raise the bar, with promotional contest apps, social catalogs and ratings and review functions.

These are all extremely easy ways for companies to get off the fence on app creation and move in the direction the social web has already headed.

As with most things in technology, the network effect is strong and sharp and rarely looks back at anything other than antiques.

So are you using “Apps” for your business?  Are they mobile or Facebook “Apps”?

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Guest Author: Adrienne Olds is the Marketing Manager at Involver

Image by Ben Terrett

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