What Facebook’s Developer Announcement means: How Community can be Portable

Update: Several have suggested that this announcement is nothing new, (See initial announcement in 2006) and upon further investigation (and a quick email exchange with the Facebook team) confirms this to be right. What’s new is that it’s now easier to do than before. Regardless, the awareness of this feature is low within the marketplace, and everything I write in the following still stands true. Consider this awareness raising, and more of these types of distributed web tactics to continue in 2008.

My goal is to simply tech speak and boil it down to what it means for you, a web strategist. I’ll update this post as I learn more information.

What Facebook wrote
In their most recent announcement they gave a very technical explanation regarding the announcement:

“This JavaScript client library allows you to make Facebook API calls from any web site and makes it easy to create Ajax Facebook applications. Since the library does not require any server-side code on your server, you can now create a Facebook application that can be hosted on any web site that serves static HTML. An application that uses this client library should be registered as an iframe type. This applies to either iframe Facebook apps that users access through the Facebook web site or apps that users access directly on the app’s own web sites. Almost all Facebook APIs are supported. The exceptions are:”

Web Strategists’ Translation
This means that web owners can now embed existing Facebook applications easier than before. Now, in addition to being able to create an application/widget that will sit on Facebook alone, you can now easily embed it on your own website (in addition to leveraging the social features that Facebook offers).

[You can start to bring the Facebook community to your own corporate website, rather than directly developing on Facebook alone. This is a step towards the community now leaving the social network and moving to other locations]

This is really making the social features and widgets of Facebook portable. This is important as your web strategy is now distributed in many locations. For corporate web strategists, you’ll need to expand the scope of your plan to include how some of these widgets and applications could be embedded on your own microsites and corporate websites. This also means this is a ‘bridge’ to get active Facebook users closer to your corporate website.

Impacts to Google’s Open Social
If you’re not familiar, I’ve outlined what Open Social Means to your executives, read this first. Essentially, Google and it’s many partners wants to make it easy for widgets to move from one social network to another with little re-coding: portable and re-usable widgets. Unfortuantly, this has yet to be seen, and Facebook’s announcement allows widgets to be more portable, somewhat creeping in on Open Social’s intentions. In the long run, expect all of these companies to be working together, sharing API data, as those that don’t will be left out.

What you need to do:

Action: Do nothing at this point, let’s wait to see some case studies of how this is being implemented.

Plan: This doesn’t keep you from correctly planning, so continue to make your web strategy a distributed one, where content, applications, and people move from social network to social network, and to your own corporate website. Talk with your interactive agency, web developers, and social media gurus on what some of these possibilities could mean. Have weekly 30 minute brainstorming parties and see how this could be implemented and integrated within your current activities.

How to think of this: Plan on adding social features to your own corporate website so that visitors will interact with your own content, re-sort it, edit it, and mash it however they want. The future of content is amorphous and ubiquitous. (I’ve been saying this since 2005 and now we’re finally starting to see it happen)