Friday, 7 May 2010

Facebook takes over the internet

It’s not an original title, but it’s the only one that says what needs to be said. Racing ahead of other social networking sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, and even giving Google a run for its money, Facebook is indeed taking over the internet.


The social networking giant recently announced the launch of Open Graph Protocol , a number of ‘social plugins’ that integrate Facebook activity with sites across the web. Amongst the developments is a ‘Like’ plugin which allows visitors to any site to share content with their friends via Facebook, and a ‘Recommendations’ plugin that suggests interesting content based on the opinions of a visitor’s Facebook friends. In short, the applications allow users to connect with each other at the touch of a button, without actually accessing Facebook.

The plugins mean that visitors to websites will automatically get a personalised experience, with recommendations from people they trust supporting a company’s offering. With personal recommendations accepted as the best way to promote a product or service, this is an extremely valuable tool for marketers, who can now integrate their various online profiles through Facebook and increase the reach of their content. With more than 400 million users, Facebook is perfectly placed to support this integration. It is a hugely well-recognised, trusted brand, and the collaborative nature of the site lends itself exceptionally well to the facilitation of wider content sharing.

Social media specialist Matt Singley [@mattsingley] says on his blog that “Facebook has rolled out something that is so beneficial to every brand and company that has a web presence, [it] now controls the internet.” I’m inclined to agree with him. These developments mean that Facebook is no longer just a social networking site, but a platform for sharing which runs across the whole web.

The vastly increased opportunities for content distribution mean that online coverage will be more important to brands than ever, and interesting, engaging digital content will be capable of driving even greater reach. PR and marketing professionals need to embrace these developments; not only do they present a wealth of opportunity but it seems incredibly likely that in no time at all, they will become an essential web tool for consumers across the board.

What do you think of the Facebook developments? Will you be using them on your own sites, or those of your clients?

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