Last month Facebook announced the new Facebook Timeline at f8. But whereas the Timeline is more relevant for user profiles, what is more interesting for businesses is Facebook’s expansion of the open graph and the possibilities in the new social apps.
Social apps explained
So far we have become familiar with Facebook’s social plugins, which meant that you can Like and Recommend content through buttons outside of Facebook. Your activity is then shared to your Facebook profile, so that your network for instance can see that you ‘liked’ a movie on imdb.com. This part of Facebook’s open graph standard reflects Facebook’s vision to make the entire web more social.
With the social apps, Facebook is expanding the open graph and throwing verbs in it, so that developers can create an app for more or less anything. This enables a developer to build an app for Facebook, where you no longer only ‘like’ a movie – but you can also ‘watch’ it. This is for instance what is already being done with Netflix, Spotify and The Guardian. Now, instead of only liking a song, a story is created real time telling that you are listening to a song, or you see your friends reading an article instead of liking it. With these social apps, real time stories are created that show what you and your friends are doing. This also allows you to pick up on the music your friends are listening to and be inspired from each other.
What does social apps mean for businesses
With Facebook’s new social apps, businesses have gained a great potential of getting more exposure. In the future, we will see more and more stories being published to the feed from brands that have created apps – maybe you will see a friend who bought an iPad at the Apple Store, which creates positive exposure for Apple while at the same time allows for the user to share an online experience with friends.
With all of these new stories and activities constantly being created, one can only imagine how the news feed and ticker will look like. But like Facebook is already limiting the amount of stories in the news feed with updates, the same will happen for apps. An algorithm called GraphRank will determine how much exposure apps will get in the news feed and ticker. GraphRank is a subset of Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm that determines which news stories to feature in the news feed. But whereas EdgeRank is more relevant for page owners, GraphRank is relevant for app developers. The basic idea of GraphRank is to assist users in finding the most relevant apps and content based on how the content is doing in the users’ social circles.
It will still take a while before we will be able to see the real effect of Facebooks social apps. But I guess that the news feed will only be more and more crowded along with more apps being created and more brands building a presence on Facebook in the future. My advice for companies is to continue doing quality content and adjust your efforts accordingly.
You can also read about Timeline, Social apps and GraphRank in Facebook’s blog post.