Facebook Drops Another Hurdle

Facebook.JPGStill looking for some attention from the social networks? Facebook delivered a new client library on Friday afternoon, which makes your widgets easier to launch in their ecosystem. While this library isn’t exactly the second coming, it’s welcome news.

According to Facebook developer Wei Zu, “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.”

Facebook also encourages developers to install applications outside its domain, which I understand was possible (if more difficult) before this release anyway. Blogger Nick O’Neill is ebullient about the social connections to be made across the web, if you place these applications on your site.

My reaction is just more measured, that’s all. When someone arrives on your site, they can connect with others only if they are signed into Facebook. Will you attract people or turn them off? This entirely depends on your business and whether joining up is an important attribute right now.

Here’s a gameplan for your Facebook interactions. Since the widget hurdle has been virtually dropped, it’s worth thinking about what kind of traffic (or links) you might get from Facebook overall. Like any social network, it’s not under your control — but you should try to become more available and present there. Consider the following approaches for engagement.

Groups: As a start, you can simply set up a group that attracts people who identify with your site or services. Try setting up an open group for some specific purposes, like sharing opinions or news, having events, etc. Of course, the postings there can link back to your site too. You can be a more active moderator, or let interested group members start to communicate and drive the agenda.

Widgets: In addition, you can create widgets that people insert on their pages. Look at what works on your site, and see what’s transportable to a widget. Don’t assume that since interactivity matters, your quiz or poll idea will be a runaway success. If you’re a content site, then consider options like headlines and stories. If you’re an e-tailer, then try sharing your latest arrivals or bargains.

Domains: Although this is a alpha or pioneering effort, consider inserting your Facebook widget back on your domain. This widget should be a tool that helps people connect, rather than a dominant site feature. Also make sure you mention this in your policies, since you’ll be using external cookies on your site too.

With this latest Facebook news and hype, one thing is clear: it’s time for you to test communications and interactions through this “coin of the realm” social network. Just as you have placed pages on MySpace to drive traffic, there’s more to be gained by injecting into Facebook too.

We just don’t have the metrics and stories to share with you yet, so let us know what you learn. What kinds of traffic do you see? Are the engines picking up things differently for you? We’re all learning about optimization from this latest social network together.

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