Thursday, September 06, 2007

Facebook: Open to persuasion?

Both Scott Karp and Badger Gravling have posted about Facebook's plans to make your profile searchable outside of facebook (eg by google) in recent days.

Scott's concern is that facebook has started opening up its network without consulting with that network - and even went so far as to test and implement without a nod to their nodes!
Scott points out that the default mode is to make your (it has to be said, very limited) profile available to search engines.

Personally, I don't have a problem with making my node on the facebook network also a node on the wider network of the internet. But then, you'd expect me to say that, wouldn't you?
I expect it to be another way my connections with interesting people and thoughts will be amplified - with all the emerging value that entails.

That said, I do understand why some people would NOT want to be involved in that widening. It's clear from recently successful networks that control over how closed or open your personal group within a network is, is very valuable to many. Think Cyworld (Korea), think LinkedIn, and (usually) think Facebook.

Seems to me facebook is scrabbling around trying to work out how to monetise its huge community (note this is a community, or series of communities, NOT an audience). Increasing the potential traffic and page impressions (a result of opening up to search engines) is a very standard interruptive advertising response.

It's attempting to gauge success in terms of Sarnoff's Law: ie The more viewers, the greater the value.

But it's a serious under-estimation of the true (Reed's Law) value being created in the facebook network.

Examples such as the student group who turned over HSBC give a pointer to the value on offer - if only facebook could tap it.

I had the pleasure of dinner with Alan Moore (co-author Communities Dominate Brands, and the man who coined the term 'engagement marketing') last night.

He had just returned from time spent working with Xtract in Helsinki. And it occurred to me that the combination of facebook, Alan and Xtract could prove very powerful.

A quick snapshot of how great the potential, is demonstrated by Robert Scoble's 5000-strong facebook group and explained by him in this video. (watch here).

An aside: Robert's video is pitched as exclusive content available only to his facebook friends - yet when I add it to my vodpod (see left navigation) it seems that content is made freely available outside of the facebook wall!).

So I took a look on Facebook to see how I might go about contacting the right person to get the conversation going.

I ended up having to pretend I wanted to place an advert in order to be able to send any kind of message to HQ at all!

Seems like facebook values its privacy...

If anyone has any clue as to how to crack the 'contact a human being at facebook' code, please do share.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?