Facebook becomes the Internet's Social Glue


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zuckerbergsocial.jpgToday was extremely important for the Internet. Facebook announced that its "Like" button is going to appear on publisher sites all over the Internet. These buttons will populate a user's profile in Facebook linking back to the originating site while also providing Facebook with even more immensely valuable, realtime data about its consumers. Here's an Ad Age story covering the announcement (which includes my perspective) and below is my deeper analysis of the announcement and what it means for marketers, publishers and agencies

What are the implications of the Facebook announcements?
First and foremost this means that Facebook will gather a lot more information about its users. There's nothing wrong with that as long as the privacy settings on Facebook are made more usable. And more than that, Facebook users need to be educated on the new privacy implications. This is something that Facebook can and should do for its user base and hopefully will.

Secondly, this means that the publishers will have a lot more information about Facebook users too. The 24 hours limit on holding Facebook data will be lifted. Publishers will now know a lot more about users (basically all their profile information) as soon as the click the "Like" button and they'll be able to hold onto this data. Just imagine the CRM implications when a publisher is able to marry FB user data with its own customer databases.

Thirdly, it means that publisher websites will get personalized based on a user's profile data in Facebook. There's nothing wrong with personalization and practically every major website (certainly the newspaper sites) include some form of personalization. The Huffington Post already personalizes content based on what stories people in your Facebook social graph have read. Expect to see a lot more of this as it gets easier for other publishers to role out similar functionality and use profile data to personalize experiences. Just think about the possibilities in retail for example.

Fourth, these announcements definitely hint towards Facebook launching some kind of ad network to overlay the like button. This announcement basically allows for another form of behavioral targeting and I'd be surprised if Facebook chose not to do something further in this realm in the coming months. The question is whether they'll launch an ad network to support the social graph distribution or just sell the data to advertising networks or exchanges. In the short term, Facebook is going to allow publishers to further target ads on their own sites with this data.

Fifth and most importantly this also means that what we do on the Internet (in terms of "liking" websites) and what is in our Facebook profile is going to heavily influence what the rest of our web experience is. The Internet is going to become much more of a personalized experience for us. That can be a good and a bad thing. Good in that we provided tailored content that we really care about and is driven by choices that we've made in the past. Bad in the sense that the content may reflect spontaneous off the cuff actions (just because I "like" a website doesn't mean I really like it) or more directly what we put in our Facebook profiles and forget to update. It'll make the web more local and less exploratory.

Do you agree with the analysis? Do you think it is as big a deal as I make it out to be?


Follow me on Twitter (@shivsingh) for more insights on digital strategy and social media.

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