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Facebook & MySpace Connect: Good Idea or Social Media Catastrophe?

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In "Social Media = Society's Watchdog," we discussed how social media's transparency affects both personal and business behavior. This results in preventative (e.g., no more drunk pictures, airlines not holding passengers hostage) and braggadocian behavior (e.g., "I'm skydiving in New Zealand!"; airlines issuing a passenger "Bill or Rights").

This behavioral trend will be hyper-accelerated (arguably a good thing) with the recently announced product advancements from Facebook and MySpace.

What is it?

Searching for these product releases on Facebook or MySpace will not produce a relevant search result! Note to Facebook and MySpace: search is a big deal, please increase your products "findability" on your own sites.

In a nutshell, both MySpace Data Availability and Facebook Connect will soon let users' personal information follow them as they traverse the Web.

Facebook Connect

"Rather than updating information across the Web (e.g., default photo, favorite movies or music) for each site where a user spends time, now a user can update their profile in one place and dynamically share that information with the other sites they care about," said a MySpace spokesman.

Why Now?

The main reason I believe is to stave off competition, primarily in the form of an "über Social Media Platform." Some friends are on Bebo, while others are on MySpace, etc. It's a hassle to keep track of so many different logins, platforms, etc.

It reverts back to the popular concept of "change once, change all." Facebook and MySpace were concerned that someone could develop a MyYahoo type of portal to manage the various social media sites and steal their direct traffic.

This is very important, when you consider that Bill Eager, cofounder of bSocial Networks, estimates there will be as many as 250,000 sites that call themselves social networks within a year, compared with about 850 today. "Everyone will reposition their site to take advantage of this phenomenon. It happened before with portals."

Facebook Connect

Hats off to MySpace and Facebook for learning from the walled garden mistakes of eBay and AOL. However, being this open does have its risks, but the rewards can be huge. Facebook found this out earlier when they pioneered the idea of having an open API, Wiki, etc., that allows everyday users to do such great things as converting the entire Facebook site to Spanish in less than two weeks! Imagine the time and cost that would have taken if Facebook had done the translation themselves?

"We're taking those walls down," says Amit Kapur, MySpace's COO.

Who Does it Help?

Aside from helping MySpace and Facebook, it should tremendously help companies and users that leverage these networks. Companies to date have had to develop "bridges" to these networks. These tools should make the process more seamless.

For those companies that didn't heed our advice ("Now showing: 'Field of Nightmares'...build it and they won't come") and developed their own social communities/networks, this should help their adoption tremendously.

"This will now enable third-party Web sites to implement and offer even more features of the Facebook Platform off of Facebook -- similar to features available to third-party applications today on Facebook," indicates Facebook's Senior Platform Manager Dave Morin.

For the user, it mitigates the tediousness of inputting the same information, photos, etc. into various platforms.

This will also greatly propel socialommerce™. If someone is in the process of buying a new car, they can see the various articles on sites like Digg or del.icio.us that people within their network found helpful (e.g., Car & Driver, Autotrader.com) in their purchase decision.

This eliminates "multiple individual redundancy." Instead of having 10 users search in Google for "GM SUV Info," you'll have one person do this while nine others will perform their first search on their social network.

This is why Google is scared as hell about social media stealing some of its market share -- in this example a reduction of 90 percent. Digg and del.icio.us are social media sites that allow you to easily file and also share articles that are relevant to you. For example, de.licio.us will indicate how many other people in the universe save a certain article (34 people saved this article).

Hence, we circle back to the opening paragraph; if we're going to be airing our dirty laundry for the world to see, shouldn't we break out the Clorox?


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