Thursday, May 29, 2008

We All Scream for Ice Cream

I like how Facebook helped extend Ben and Jerry's brand awareness. They were able to use the power of a brand and a social network to make a media campaign connected. While TV spots give visibility and Google Ads extend that with a link for the consumer, Facebook is able to engage the user with the brand.

"Our users tell a lot about themselves, that gives us the opportunity" to work with advertisers, she said. One successful example of this, she said, was a promotion by Ben & Jerry's that resulted in 500,000 Facebook users giving each other free ice cream cones within 11 hours. That day, the Ben & Jerry's Web site picked up 53 million impressions, as people searched for store locations and wrote about their favorite flavors, she said.

I wonder if we could push further on this and allow the social interaction to be more open to other websites and applications . A similar experience could have been offered from Ben and Jerry's website. Maybe I should be able to share an Ice Cream directly from their store locator view. The second expansion would be to enable this feature through any application. There are 20,000 applications at Facebook, enabling them to participate in the social campaign might just further the engagement and virality.

If the application was deployed at Ben and Jerry's ,depicted to the right, then the interaction might have the opportunity to be further reaching. Another possible advantage is the campaign could be re-run on other social networks and other websites tailored for specific communities.

I think it is further expansion of applications into many web sites, communities and social networks which will further drive the idea of an open social web.

Rich @ Ringside

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Make more of the Open Source Facebook API

This Facebook open source effort is really getting to me, seriously guys.   If you could have done this a few months ago I would not have had to kill myself with implementing all your APIs.   I could focus more on how to wrap the APIs with security, graphing, metering, and more.

Luckily the Ringside team has discovered a way to warp time and get both done! As I posted a while back we already have an open source version of the Facebook APIs for application developers to test against. We have also shown how to extend the platform, and add APIs to your own network. This past week we updated the core implementation of the APIs, without changing how the APIs are implemented. APIs now are active participants in their lifecycle.

Load - we load the session and context specific to the user, application and network. This part is important since it ensures each requests data can be encapsulated to their session. At this point we can also determine if this user has identities across multiple networks and tie things together.

Delegation - an intermediary step which allows any api to participate in delegation. If this call maps to an open social container in the ether or facebook we can offer trusted delegation. We also ensure in the case of facebook the user and application are valid on that network. Notice no big pipe into a given social network but rather ensure that the Application and User are connected properly.

Validate - a sequence of validation steps to ensure the request is meant for this network and approved to make the request. Validating session, keys, signatures, callid's and request parameters.

Execute - execute the method and render its response in the appropriate format (json, xml, php). Exception process is handled.

We look forward to sharing with Facebook's open source release. And eagerly awaiting to validate against their code drop for compatibility testing.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Social Everywhere

This story is short. Facebook, MySpace and others want their social to be everywhere, similar to how Google's search is everywhere. This is a three step process unfolding in front of all of us:

1. Open API where applications can be added to a social network. Facebook clearly had an early lead on this front, open social is trying to offer similar functionality, but with promises of a broader community.

2. Open Identity (Profile) to broaden attach rate of a social network. MySpace and Facebook made major announcements in this area last week, and Google and Open Social are expected to make announcements this week. They are promoting the use of your user profile on many sites. They will make it easy for any website to add the ability to bring your friends to that page. Developers will be able to associate a local profile to a users social identity on any particular social network. With this you can bring social interactions to your website.

3. Open Network to broaden your users into a larger social network. This is the likely next step. The social networks will allow sites to push their social information out. They will provide a set of integrations which allow you to enable your users to travel within their social graph. For example your website will be able to register a FEED or NOTIFICATION api, so if two users interact within Facebook as it relates to your site, Facebook will send out the viral message to your back end, and you can operate on that notification.

While the social media networks are currently at step two of their strategy it is becoming clear that the ability to use social technology for a website, a community or even software system will become very powerful and possibly transform the web. No one is saying rewrite your application to be a social application, that would be a mistake. However the transformation of social context becoming part of how we think of building sites, communities and applications is going to cycle through the development process over the next three years.

Ringside was built on the premise that social networking would become pervasive, each of the social media networks would gain market share, and that every site would need to consider its strategy around social networking. It's a lot of fun to be part of this time, hopefully to enjoy working as the platform which helps integrate the social context from social media networks to the value you need to deliver in your business.