Facebook F8 Announcements — and What It Really Means

Facebook F8GigaOm has a great blog post previewing what Facebook will be launching today at their F8 conference. In short, they’re launching Facebook Connect 2.0 (auto-logins), the Facebook Presence Bar (think of the one at the bottom of this page), Share/Like buttons, and Facebook Locations, which is their answer to Foursquare. This furthers the notion I’ve been telling clients for a while now: it’s a flat out war between Google and Facebook for your attention and more importantly – your data.

While these new enhancements clearly are looking to tie your online activity to your real life and friends (I believe you’ll get a few points on the bullshit bingo scorecard by saying “Social Graph”), they are major intrusions of one’s online and offline privacy. As a marketer it’s a dream to know everything someone’s doing online and offline. As a consumer it’s a completely frightening thing. Because Facebook is notorious for bungling user privacy, look for the US government to intervene eventually. A few other points I want to make about the new announcements:

  • Facebook Connect will be utilized by webmasters everywhere IF it provides real analytics. Sure, I want my site visitors to post their interactions with my website on Facebook, but if there’s not a real benefit for me as a marketer I’ll pass or go with another solution.
  • I liked the Presence Bar the first time I saw it – it’s called the Meebo toolbar, and it integrates a lot of my other IM clients. One advantage Presence Bar has over the Meebo or Amazon toolbars of the world is that your friends might actually be online vs. a hand full of folks on scattered chat clients.
  • Share/Like buttons: Companies like ShareThis have had the first piece of this technology, but again it’s been a combination of solutions that have made this functionality work on sites today. It solves a problem for bloggers and webmasters only if it provides analytics for that audience, but don’t expect all of the other icons and avatars for Google Buzz, Twitter, etc to go away anytime soon.
  • Facebook Locations seems like a no brainer given how Foursquare has taken off, however the most common feedback I hear is similar to what people said about Twitter: Why do I care what you’re doing or where you’re at all of the time? Once again privacy poses the biggest obstacle or barrier to adoption.

So where does this net you out as a marketer? Well, it means your Facebook ads are about to get a lot more precise and the clickthroughs should go through the roof. It also means you will able to start mining a lot more data – if Facebook makes it available. I’ve had clients groan repeatedly at the immature nature of Facebook’s analytics, so unless they’re able to think like marketers and provide the right metrics, dashboards and data this is all another great idea on Facebook’s part with a ton of potential but poor execution.

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