Understanding Facebook’s Opportunities


By now, you are probably familiar with Facebook and what it is; in fact, chances are that you are already addicted to it. In their own words, Facebook is a social utility that connects you with people around you.

The success of this site is a great example of Web 2.0: we have passed from being strictly consumers, to become great contributors of the Internet content. On Facebook, users can publish almost everything: posts (editorials), photos, videos, create groups and even create classified ads.

Facebook started as a school-only site; but since opening the site to everyone, they have experienced and continue to experience very impressive growth, with an even more impressive user engagement. Let’s look at the numbers: 

  • Has 43 million active users, with the number doubling every 6 months!
  • 50% of users return to the site at least once a day.
  • A typical Facebook user is 25 years or older.
  • 5th site in number of Page views
  • 1st photo site

Impressed yet? Well, lets see the numbers for in Canada in, one of the countries with greatest reception of Facebook:

  • 6 million active users (1 in ever 5 Canadians!)
  • 9 out of the top 30 cities (in terms of memberships) are Canadian including
    • #2 for Toronto (with 800.000) users
    • #3 Vancouver

 In fact, a Development Camp series (2 conferences) hold in Toronto in August and October respectively, drew crowd of 1000 people in total.

New, Exciting Opportunities

 The opportunities to reach the Facebook users market goes beyond the regular advertising models or self promoting via community content.

Facebook has given 3rd party companies the ability to create applications that gives them immediate potential access to massive audiences; not only that, they allow developers and companies to monetize on their applications!

They have created a model where they have given the developer community the power generate applications used within Facebook; in my opinion this is a great idea: getting thousands of people thinking about and generating applications with fresh ideas and at an amazing rate.

Granted, not all the applications are great, but a more few are good or great; and those are enough to addict us further, increasing our engagement with Facebook.

So, with such a massive audience, is no surprise to find business of all sizes looking for ways to reach the Facebook’s users with their own applications. Big corporations such as Telus and Red Bull already run applications; and even banks are interested, in order to reach a younger market TD Canada Trust has announce it will develop an application .

What does this mean? This basically means, that you can create a web site, that will reside within Facebook, will have immediate access to a subset of Facebook’s data and will have the potential to reach big audiences.

How are people using this?

Companies are using this opportunity to do several things:

  • Have their Facebook application complement their Web Site offerings.
    • Sample: Jobster for example allows users to upload their resume, which is integrated into their regular site.
  • Draw traffic to your site, by creating an interactive, fun and useful application on facebook, that have links to your site.
  • Increase Brand Awareness; I would say this is the case of Telus, they have created a fun application where they promote their brand, services and promotions.
  • Have stand alone applications: developers and companies have generated brand new applications tailored specifically for Facebook and it’s social aspect.

One thing to mention is that your Facebook application should be aligned with your overall business strategy; unless you are doing a brand new application only for Facebook.

There is still more to discuss in the subject, but this post is getting rather long. I’ll do a second post on the following topics:

  • Applications Integration Points
  • Characteristics of Succesful Applications
  • Promoting your Application.

Author: ricardocovo

Senior Software Architect/Developer with extensive experience in web related technologies.

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