How Facebook’s New Open Graph Features Impact fCommerce

Facebook announced yesterday regarding its developer platform — namely, new features in its Open Graph are now available to all application developers.

The new features were no secret, but we can now see them in action from 60 partner applications involved in the Open Graph Beta including Netflix, Hulu, Zynga, Spotify, Washington Post and Kobo.

So what’s the big deal?

2 New Features for Facebook Open Graph

Open Graph applications use elements of the development platform to provide ‘frictionless sharing’ to Facebookers’ Timelines and Tickers, which will also appear in friends’ News Feeds.

While Open Graph apps like the Washington Post have enabled social sharing for some time now, there are 2 major changes:

Gestures

Apps can use their own verbs (Gestures). In addition to ‘Like’ ‘Share’ and ‘Recommend,’ you can ‘Want,’ ‘Heart,’ ‘Listen,’ ‘Purchase’ — or pretty much any other verb within Facebook’s guidelines (of being simple, genuine and non-abusive). For example, Netflix could say ‘Colby just added Limitless to his queue.’

Frictionless Sharing

Frictionless Sharing is a warm and fuzzy term for auto-publishing. The new feature makes sharing the Gesture the default. Users permit the app to share once, rather than go through the ‘friction’ of approving every single action for publishing.

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What this means for Facebook users

If you hate the ticker and news feed now, you’re really going to hate it once it’s spammed with every single micro-activity your social network performs online.

You’ll also need to be careful about which apps you enable to auto-publish for you. Think about what you might not care to share, or what might not be an expression of yourself. For example, if you sample songs on Pandora, it doesn’t mean you like or recommend them. If you rent movies for your kids to watch, it doesn’t mean you are watching them.

What this means for Ecommerce

For brands, this certainly presents an opportunity to pump your word of mouth marketing full of steroids, particularly if your ecommerce business sells digital content such as books, news articles, music, movies and TV shows. Such products are inherently shareable — people have been discussing what they’ve watched and listened to read offline for years.

Physical goods retailers can leverage social and shopping apps that are already available, like Pinterest, Payvment or online gift card marketplace GiftRocket.

Commercial brands that successfully build relevant, experience-based apps like the Nike+ Running Monitor should get a lot of mileage out of these new features — no pun intended.

If you plan to develop or simply tweak your existing Facebook Application to include Gestures, check out the Open Graph Checklist. Facebook apps depend on approvals like the Apple App Store, and your Gestures must be in line with Facebooks requirements.

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