Find the Fans You Never Knew You Had
Frictionless sharing? Realtime serendipity? The phrases that Mark Zuckerberg used at f8 to describe the new Facebook may seem like lines straight out of Brave New World, but these funny-sounding phrases represent some pretty revolutionary ideas. In my previous blog post, I explained frictionless sharing and the rationale behind it. Here, I’ll discuss its counterpart: realtime serendipity. By that, Facebook is referring to the new kind of social apps built on its Open Graph and the way (it hopes) people will interact with them.
For example, if you read in your Ticker that “Karen is running in Central Park on Nike+” and “Joe is listening to California Sunrise on Spotify,” the hoped-for result is that you will also go for a run on Nike+, preferably while listening to California Sunrise on Spotify. These activities will then automatically appear on your Timeline and in your friends’ Tickers and News Feeds. Since Facebook’s Open Graph supports an unlimited combination of verbs and nouns, the possibilities for social apps are endless. Think: “Joe is riding a Schwinn bike to work” or “Karen is reserving a table at Café Garbo.”
You might be asking yourself, what’s the point of all this? Well, it depends if you’re using Facebook for yourself or for your business. For the private user, the point of realtime serendipity is just what its name suggests: the constant possibility that you could discover an acquaintance who also loves to run in your favorite park or that you could stumble upon your next favorite song through such an app. These little happy coincidences were possible before Facebook, of course. It’s just that now you are much more likely to experience them.
For the business world, though, realtime serendipity is a game-changer. In the last post, I wrote that businesses will have to do a lot more than accumulate Likes to stand out amidst the constant stream of updates. Realtime serendipity, i.e. social apps, is how companies will be able to do that. Let’s take Nike as an example. The company created an app, Nike+ GPS, that records your pace, distance, and route – it even cheers you on throughout your run. The most important aspect of the app, however, is that it enables you to post your accomplishments on Facebook. This means that every time you – and every other user of the app – finish a run, the Nike brand is broadcast on countless Tickers and News Feeds, regardless of whether those users are Fans of Nike or not. With social apps, companies are able to reach a much wider audience than they previously could on Facebook.
In the near future, there will no doubt be an explosion of social apps on the market, and Facebook, naturally, will give more weight to certain apps and updates than others. So how do you make sure your company’s social app is prominently displayed in the Tickers and News Feeds of your customers and potential customers? By paying attention to the three factors that determine an app’s Graphrank: co-efficient, interaction, and time decay.
The co-efficient factor refers to the relationship between two users. If Facebook determines that two users have many common interests, then the app activity from one user will be prominently displayed in the other user’s Ticker and News Feed. If two users have few common interests, app activity will be less prominently displayed. The second factor, interaction, is based on how often a user interacts with an app and how their friends react to it. If there is little interaction, then app activities will be shown less frequently. Finally, the time decay factor means that if an app is used only once, activity notices will appear less and less frequently and may even disappear altogether.
Businesses, your task is clear: you need to adapt your social media strategy to reap the benefits of frictionless sharing and realtime serendipity. Specifically, take advantage of Facebook’s Open Graph and the unlimited possibilities for social apps. And finally, ensure that any social app you develop is useful for your customers. Only by creating an app that is truly relevant, will you be able to ensure the kind of continuous interaction that lands your brand in someone’s Top Stories.