On May 24, Facebook (the intriguing social network site I wrote about in my previous post) announced that it was opening up its platform to outside developers, allowing them to build applications that were deeply integrated with the Facebook user experience. We can expect, of course, that most of the new applications will be as social — as oriented toward sharing information, watching what others are doing and publicizing one’s own actions, and profiting from others’ experiences — as the main site itself is already.
I haven’t yet started to experiment with any of these applications, and so can’t review or vouch for any of them. I can say, though, that many people in my network have started to download them. Facebook keeps me abreast of what my friends have been up to (if they give the site permission to broadcast their activities), and over the past couple days I’ve noticed that lots of them have been adding 3rd party applications. Intrigued, I visited Facebook’s applications page just now and saw that there were over 100 applications available already (I believe that all of them are free). These include tools to let members:
- Add music to their profiles and see who else is going to an upcoming concert
- Edit photos and play slideshows
- Extend their profiles beyond the original fields
- Find people based on what they like to drink (!?!?!)
- And much, much more.
For people and companies interested in Facebook’s potential within the enterprise, the opening of the platform is a welcome development, and probably a fundamentally important one. Developers now have the ability to customize Facebook for the needs of the enterprise, and to do so in a low-cost, low-risk, and iterative manner.
I can’t wait to see what they come up with. As I wrote before, Facebook appears to tap into a set of our deep-seated desires: to reach out to people, to be accepted by them, keep them up to date on our doings, and to stay up to date on theirs. What tools will be built to leverage and extend these desires? And what kinds of impact will they have on companies and their performance? We’ll have to stay tuned.
If you’re using or developing enterprise-oriented Facebook tools, please leave a comment and tell us about them. And give me some on-the-job training by inviting me to use them with you; here’s my profile.