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Understanding the power of facebook’s open graph -Gigya - 2012


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Understanding the power of facebook’s open graph -Gigya - 2012

  1. 1. White Paper: Understanding the Power of Facebook’s Open GraphUnderstanding the Power of Facebook’s Open GraphWith 800 million members and growing, Facebook appears to have a firm hold on the crown in online social networking,which is both a term and an industry that didn’t even exist a decade ago. Since making the site generally available inSeptember 2006, Facebook has grown into one of the largest and most active Web sites on the Internet. Yet, as a soon-to-be publicly traded company, it still operates in many ways like a Silicon Valley startup, a place where the product is stillunder construction as it slowly revolutionizes the Internet and becomes a driving force of the global economy.For many, Facebook has become just as much a daily personal experience as eating and sleeping. It’s a network ofinterconnected communities where people of all ages - from teens to seniors and everyone in between - drop in daily toshare their thoughts, frustrations, milestones and adventures in words, pictures and sometimes even video. It’s wherethey go to chronicle the events of their lives - often times with a mobile phone application to share where they are, whothey’re with and what they’re doing.What’s interesting is that users are willing to share this much about themselves despite some stumbles around userprivacy in Facebook’s early years. The company not only has recognized and acknowledged those missteps but alsoaddressed them. The company has taken greater steps to evolve at a slower pace, one that allows users to fully test-drivenew features - such as the recent shift to a user Timeline - before rolling out a widespread changeover. It has also done abetter job of allowing users to “opt-in” to services that will be able to access their personal information.With new features setting the stage for 2012 and beyond, Facebook continues to push the limits of what’s possible on theInternet. Its latest push into an ecosystem of “frictionless apps” will catalyze the next Internet revolution, in part becauseFacebook is inviting - not forcing - users to participate.Facebook Apps: What are they and how are people using them?It all started back in mid-2007 with the launch of Facebook Platform, which initially opened the site sodevelopers could integrate with Facebook’s “Open Graph.” This is what allowed companies like Zynga to create Farmvilleand Mafia Wars, social games that exploded because of participation of the Facebook community. The Facebook platformgave the game an interactive feel by reaching out to the player’s Facebook friends for help with the game - such asvisiting the virtual farm to help virtually water the virtual crops.As the platform evolved, developers were able to integrate Facebook across the Web and devices, enabling users toshare something they were doing on another site, such as reading a news article, on their Facebook profiles without © 2011 GIGYA ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. | | CONTACT: 650.353.7230 or
  2. 2. White Paper: Understanding the Power of Facebook’s Open Graphhaving to visit the Facebook site to post an update. Over time, users became more comfortable with sharing. They startedembedding YouTube videos of their favorite songs, posting links to articles from news sites, checking-in from restaurantsand sharing unsolicited reviews of meals, books, movies and so on.At its September 2011 developer’s conference in San Francisco, the company told app developers about a set offorthcoming features that would bring sharing to a new level. The first, called Timeline, would reinvent the look and feel ofthe user profile by turning shared moments on Facebook into life events on a user’s life timeline.The second was a significant update to Facebook’s Open Graph, the complex map of Facebook users’ connections. Theupdate promised to open the floodgates to the possibilities of how people interact with other Web properties and howthose interactions were shared via Facebook.What’s new with Apps? Are people interested?In early 2012, Facebook formally unveiled the Open Graph update for everyone on the Web, kicking it off with the help of60 partners that will help transition users from simply “liking” things on other sites to “reading,” “listening,” “visiting,” orother verbs that define what they’re doing on the Internet. For example, similarly to how people are “listening” to certainsongs on Spotify, they’ll be “cooking” a meal they found on Foodily or “shopping” for a car on AutoTrader.Facebook isn’t just expanding the type of sharing that goes on within its network. It’s also automating that sharing bymaking the process “frictionless,” essentially allowing an app to post, for example, the music that Facebook users arelistening to on Spotify without users having to go in and manually post those updates. Some have said that Spotify, which © 2011 GIGYA ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. | | CONTACT: 650.353.7230 or
  3. 3. White Paper: Understanding the Power of Facebook’s Open Graphwas part of a test-run of the concept, saw rapid growth in the U.S., in part, because of its integration with Facebook’sfrictionless sharing.For users, frictionless sharing reshapes the Web experience by exposing Facebookers to a whole new ecosystem ofinfluence – one where users can not only share what they’re reading but also see what their friends are reading. Throughthis system, users are being exposed to the tastes of their Facebook friends, a group that tends to be much larger – anddiverse – than the group of friends they hang out with during offline hours.For businesses, it’s an important shift in the way products are marketed because, through a network of Facebookconnections, influential viral marketing shifts to a potential audience of 840 million (and growing) – much larger than anynational TV audience. By comparison, this year’s Super Bowl generated an audience of roughly 111 million viewers – afraction of the potential Facebook reach.Imagine how a restaurant owner, for example, might value a customer letting his Facebook friends know that he was“enjoying a meal” - instead of just “eating” at the restaurant. Imagine that owner being able to reach out to customers whodidn’t enjoy the meal - and said as much on Facebook - to come in and give the place another try, perhaps with adiscount. Imagine that owner getting updates that some of his regular customers at the law firm down the street will beworking late, an opportunity for him to reach out and offer to prepare dinner for the group.It’s a new level of interaction on Facebook because it’s not just about friends connecting with friends anymore. These newOpen Graph applications essentially grant access to those Facebook details - with permission from the user - in order todeliver a better sharing experience. Eventually, once the app learns more about a user’s tastes, likes and dislikes, it canserve up customized information - perhaps an update about a car model the user has been researching online, someweekend specials at one of your favorite restaurants or a ticket giveaway contest from the local radio station.Now, companies who interact with customers on Facebook - whether a car dealer, restaurant owner or concert promoter -can create Facebook action verbs that define the customer’s relationship to the company. Think of it as viral marketing toengaged, friendly audiences.It’s too early to gauge the receptiveness of this Open Graph application model but the slow rollout of these features, alongwith a launch that centers on sites that likely would spark sharing - music, video, cooking and sports, among others - © 2011 GIGYA ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. | | CONTACT: 650.353.7230 or
  4. 4. White Paper: Understanding the Power of Facebook’s Open Graphcould generate some buzz among the Facebook faithful. Facebook has been careful to give the users control of the tools,recognizing that privacy is important to users and that eventually – through viral sharing – they tend to flock to newfeatures.In a TechCrunch blog post, blogger Josh Constine explained that active sharing by users is replaced by automatedsharing, a move that could increase the “noise” on Facebook and require new actions by some users. He wrote: “...we’llneed to learn to filter out the noise in reverse, opting out when we don’t want to share instead of opting in when we do.That’s a huge behavioral realignment that will take time and won’t come easy. If learned, though, we’ll be able to danceacross the web from one piece of great content to the next, sharing it all effortlessly, and only having to stop whensomething deserves to be struck from the record. And as algorithms improve to show us what’s most relevant, we won’thave to un-share as often.”Sharing is a personal thing - but technology has taken us to the point where algorithms make it possible for automatedsystems to actually learn about us - our tastes, our comfort levels with sharing and even those who most frequentlyengage in discussions with us. Just as Google has refined its page-ranking algorithms over the years to make the searchexperience more personal, Facebook has also been updating the news feeds based on a number of algorithms, such asthe types of connections we have with people.Industry watchers have suggested that Facebook has struck just the right balance with this new feature by creating asystem that relies on transparent, permission-based access. Even though many users tend to accept terms andagreements for sites and software without actually reading them, Facebook has gone to great lengths to put theinformation in their faces - specifying the types of information that the application will access and incorporating a drop-down tool to change the privacy settings before approving access by the app. No longer do users have to go back andadjust their privacy settings after the fact.Why should I be interested?Internet search was a Web-changing tool – one that allowed us to research specific information by tapping a fewkeywords into a massive index of the Web’s content. And while search remains important, Facebook is tapping into thepower of content discovery by reaching out to the very network of people who already help us discover relevant content –our friends. Great content - whether it’s a funny video clip that made a co-worker laugh, an image of the newest memberof the family or a link to a news story that a group of friends is buzzing about - is found by scrolling through friend-poweredsocial media, not by searching for “funny video clip” on a search engine.Any company that understands the significance of a professional web site as a tool for maintaining an online presence,drumming up new business and interacting with potential customers should have little trouble understanding the power of © 2011 GIGYA ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. | | CONTACT: 650.353.7230 or
  5. 5. White Paper: Understanding the Power of Facebook’s Open GraphFacebook’s Open Graph. Over time, Facebook will top 1 billion users and the app economy will gain traction. Companiesthat aren’t implementing Facebook’s expansive features are already behind the competition.Facebook, just like Web pages and email accounts a decade ago, is increasingly becoming a business tool that cannot beignored. Certainly, the traditional Web site is still a primary element of business – but it’s no longer a stand-alonepresence. Through integration with Facebook’s Open Graph, a site can enhance that online presence by allowing users tointeract on-site using their Facebook identities, exposing the site’s content and making it easier to share across theFacebook ecosystem – and economy. It revolutionizes the way companies and customers share information and interactwith one another.But it’s more than just that. Facebook is a treasure trove of data that says so much about a person - where they work, howmany kids they have, where they vacation, which teams they root for, which movies they like, their favorite types of foodsand, of course, their political leanings. Building an app just to gain data that can be sliced, diced and analyzed down to thegranular levels is reason enough to jump on-board. After all, regardless of the type of business or app, that sort ofpermission-based data gives companies insight into behaviors and patterns based on gender, demographics, region, age,education levels and so much more. Users already share so much information about themselves on Facebook that thedata being collected would be valuable to any company trying to reach a clientele.It’s also worth noting the economic implications of this new Facebook application ecosystem. Before the companyannounced its plans for the Open Graph update and Timeline, the app ecosystem within Facebook was alreadygenerating some buzz. A University of Maryland study released in September 2011 looked at Facebook’s economicimpact in the nine months prior. What it found was, mostly through its gaming apps, the Facebook App economy hadcreated nearly 200,000 jobs in the U.S. in 2011 and added more than $12 billion in wages to the U.S. economy. © 2011 GIGYA ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. | | CONTACT: 650.353.7230 or
  6. 6. White Paper: Understanding the Power of Facebook’s Open GraphAs other industries work to get a piece of that Facebook economy, those numbers will grow exponentially - just as otherApp ecosystems, such as Apple’s app store and Google’s Android market, have flourished. Given the size of the userbase and the existing comfort levels those users have with sharing, it’s only a matter of time until Facebook is right therenext to Apple and Google as an application powerhouse.What’s next for Facebook?The thing to remember about Facebook is that it doesn’t update just to make itself look prettier. With every change, it’sbroadening its reach and taking the concept of sharing - as well as watching, listening, eating, buying, playing - to newlevels. It’s breaking new ground and pushing the limits of what it can do by giving Facebook users - whether individuals orbusinesses - tools and features that they didn’t even know they wanted.No one knows exactly for sure what Facebook has up its sleeve for the future but this much is true: it’s been a constantevolution with Facebook, a series of upgrades that built on the idea that Facebook is more than just a Web site or onlinecommunity. Unlike predecessors who built large online communities – such as AOL and Yahoo in the past – Facebookdidn’t just add more feature sites, such as jobs, finance and sports. It embraced what the Web was already offering andhas adapted to not only be receptive to new types of interactive Web properties but to also influence how those sites willevolve and grow. Recognizing that, it’s easier to see how interactive apps, social commerce, targeted advertising and newconnections will continue to be a part of Facebook’s next offerings.I’m sold. Now what?The biggest challenge for a company looking to tap into Facebook’s tools and resources is that Facebook is a fast-moving, constantly evolving ecosystem. It’s a web within the web - and on mobile platforms, too.Maximizing exposure on Facebook and tapping into all that it has to offer is a full-time effort. The cost of doing businesstoday includes a budget for IT needs, as well as Web development. Today, social media strategies and implementationare just as important as a powerful Web presence - maybe even more important - and should be part of a company’sinvestment strategy.Trying to handle social media as an afterthought or pawning it off on an intern is one of the biggest mistakes a companycan make. The best bet is to work with a company that not only understands how social media works but also knows howto incorporate social media tools into daily business operations, and most importantly, on the company’s Web site.Recognizing the power of Facebook and the importance of integrating social identities across the Web, Gigya offers a fullsuite of social applications such as Social Login, Share, Comments and Gamification that allows sites to offer an engagingon-site experience that deeply integrates with Facebook and other social networks. But Gigya also understands thatintegration is only one piece of the social media puzzle for businesses. Gigya’s Social Identity Management Platform digsdeep into the data, allowing businesses to collect and store permission-based social data and on-site activities so thosebusinesses can understand and target users like never before.Relying on a Web page and good search engine placement might have been enough for a company to promote itself afew years ago. But as social media – and social identity – gains more traction and becomes a more powerful force inpersonal interactions and communications, it’s safe to say that an investment in social integration is a must-do for today’sserious business decision-makers. © 2011 GIGYA ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. | | CONTACT: 650.353.7230 or