Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Facebook Gold Rush Continued...Graphing Social Patterns - the Business and Technology of Facebook

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 8, 2007

Graphing Social Patterns If you don't yet have a Facebook app representing your business, you should get one before the white noise of millions of Facebook apps drowns yours out.

This week in San Jose at the Holiday Inn Monday and Tuesday is the Graphing Social Patterns - The Business and Technology of Facebook conference. The focus is on developing apps for the Facebook platform.

What is not yet clear is how some types of businesses will make money through Facebook. What is clear is that being among the first Facebook apps is important and that the "build it and they (revenues) will come" approach is the best one because the cost of building Facebook apps is not that great. Rising above the noise is very important.

Being among the first Facebook apps means that you can take advantage of the viral opportunities that Facebook provides because of the distribution channel through people's relationships with other users.

Relationship Platforms

"Social" platforms in this context are better represented by the term "relationship" platform because of the mixture of personal and business networks that get mixed into people's Facebook contacts. For example, I accept any "friend request" because of the very public nature of my work. But others are very strict about such requests and limit their Facebook contacts.

However, increasingly Facebook is becoming a very mixed "social" platform as many people mix family, friends and business contacts. But it should become fairly easy for users to segment their relationships as new apps come along.

The Unified Super-Social Graph?

reid_hoffman.jpg Currently, Facebook seems to be emerging as the top dog social network, also called a "social graph." Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, said at the Graphing Social Patterns conference,"It is likely that there will be many social graphs, family, religeon, business. I'm not a big believer in just one social graph. It is very unlikely."

However, Mr Hoffman's scenario doesn't preclude one host of many social graphs, which Facebook is currently well positioned to provide.

Mr Hoffman said the challenges of social apps is to find something that is sustainable and can stay ahead of "me too" type applications.

He added that the economics of the Facebook platform are not yet clear but could become clearer as the platform evolves. He points out that there will be massive competition:

-Someone will try to give away anything you charge for.

-At least 3 people will copy anything that works.

-Competition will come from companies and individuals.

-Newness is extremely important and a challenge for developers.

If Mr Hoffman is right, that doesn't bode well for the economics of the Facebook platform.

Check back for more reports from the conference plus video is also coming via TechOne.

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