Should Publishers “Like” Facebook’s Open Graph?

Shiv SinghBy Shiv Singh, VP & Global Social Media Lead, Razorfish

“If we can take these separate maps of the graph and pull them together then we can create a web that is more social, personalized and semantically aware.”

-Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

Yesterday, Facebook announced that its “Like” button is going to appear on publishers’ 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, real-time 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-hour 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 they 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 Facebook user data with its own customer databases.

Thirdly, it means that publishers’ 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) includes some form of personalization. The Huffington Post already personalizes content based on what stories other people in your Facebook social graph have read. Expect to see a lot more of this as it gets easier for other publishers to roll 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. That can be a good and a bad thing. Good in that we’re provided tailored content that we really care about, 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?

This post was originally published on Going Social Now and has been reprinted with Mr. Singh’s permission.

Shiv Singh is VP & Global Social Media Lead at Razorfish, a digital strategist, design thinker, practitioner, and author of Social Media Marketing for Dummies.

3 thoughts on “Should Publishers “Like” Facebook’s Open Graph?

  1. Tim Barrus

    I run the largest VOOK group on Facebook. At first, I was overwhelmed with the numbers. But it’s beginning to make sense that there is a shared sensibility out there that is, in fact, a frustration with mainstream publishing. I seriously doubt that publishers are going to expose themselves to information that suggests that any criticism of what they do and how they do it exists or runs this deep. Publishers want to hear the status quo, see the status quo, and they certainly speak the status quo. There is data on Facebook that has not been mined. Publishers are not going to like it one bit.

  2. DonLinn

    I agree with this analysis entirely, which is why, as a consumer, I’ve de-activated my personal facebook account. The reasoning behind doing so is first, I’m not comfortable that facebook can and will make their privacy policies easily understandable and controllable by users. Their history in this area has been, to be generous, spotty and when I went to adjust some of my settings shortly after the most recent announcements were made, finding and changing all the things that needed to be found and changed was not trivial.

    Second, I do not want my web experience further personalized by facebook’s algorithms. Trying to browse and shop on amazon outside my ‘recommedations’ in my preferred categories provides just a taste of how constricting that can be. Being pushed further and further into pre-determined categories and pigeonholes defeats, in my mind, what is most enjoyable and valuable about the web…being able to find what I need when I want to do that but also serendipitously finding wonderful things via random browsing and links.

    The new facebook web will be a great tool if you’re on the “sell” side…but very much a flattening experience if you’re a consumer.

  3. Pingback: What’s Not to “Like”? (Roundtable: 4/29/10) | Digital Book World


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