23-Year-Old Mark Zuckerberg Has Google Sweating
Idealist Entrepreneur’s Facebook Offers Something Search Doesn’t–Distribution
By Abbey Klaassen
Just as Google has become what some people call the operating system for search, Facebook is turning itself into the operating system for social networking. While Google knows what millions of people are searching for, Facebook has something the search giant hasn’t been able to grow: a network of connections between people that creates a viral distribution platform unrivaled by any portal or search engine.
Don’t think this point hasn’t made its way to Mountain View. It has certainly made it into the New York offices of News Corp., parent of Facebook’s chief competition. When asked recently by the Wall Street Journal whether newspaper readers were going to MySpace, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, who shelled out in 2005 what now appears to be a bargain sum of $580 million for MySpace, didn’t mince words: “I wish they were. They’re all going to Facebook at the moment.” (Actually, although Facebook’s audience growth is outpacing that of MySpace, its total audience numbers are still less than half the 69 million unique visitors scored by Mr. Murdoch’s social network in May.)
The biggest mistake so far on Facebook is the not implementing the MY QUESTIONS application properly. It just doesn’t have a strong enough placing and it’s difficult to see friends’ questions. Currently it is easier to use the Profile “Laurel Papworth is… ” option. BTW, anyone else find they are talking in third person these days? Interesting how social apps like Twitter and Facebook who both use third person to resolve technical/layout issues causes social change in speech. You watch. It’ll be like txt language except instead of “/me omw” I’ll be saying “Laurel Papworth omw”. (omw = on my way).
Back to the discussion. Social search is the ability to have your social network answer a question actively in a question-and-answer format, or passively by noting what they have posted up in, for example, iLike, Visual Bookshelf, Cities I’ve Visited, Movies, Polls, MarketPlace, and Groups. All these features and heaps more are in Facebook.
Both Twitter and Facebook are interesting social research tools. I can post up questions such as “anyone got a copy of blah blah report?” or “who’s seen the new Shrek movie?” and get responses from my trusted network. (Yeah I trust you guys, I guess. Heh). Social search coming of age? There are tonnes of recommendation engines such as iLike and Visual Bookshelf, that come with built in rating and ranking and support. The last is pertinent – you add the application and then use Facebook to join discussion forums or blog-like comment areas to ask questions.
It would be like being in Microsoft Internet Explorer and have a bar on the right hand side that had a support forum that changed for every page you went to – whether it’s NineMSN or eBay or this mighty blog. In-built community for every page. That’s why Facebook is the operating system of social networks. (I’m discounting Itzle etc. for the moment).
Sort of the opposite of a walled garden. Facebook keeps people in, by providing the services they need including customer service and technical support for third party services, rather than by locking them in so they can’t use said third party services. I wonder how much money those developers make everytime someone clicks on a book in Visual Bookshelf and buys the book from their Amazon links? It’s currently one of the smaller apps – 51,000 members – but should still be a nice little earner. I’ve got a tonne of books I want to read by perusing friends bookshelves. Affiliates undoubtedly go social-network-mad in Facebook but isn’t it nice to have advertising that is also useful and collaborative? Yum.