Facebook Disconnect? Connecting to the social ROI

Posted on July 29, 2008
Filed Under CSO, Musings, Social Web, Strategy | Comments Off on Facebook Disconnect? Connecting to the social ROI

The recently-announced platform service, Facebook Connect, will allow people to be social across sites on the internet in a new way. But will corporate offices and other workplaces allow access? And will the other similar services interact with each other, or find reasons to not interact reminiscent of the early days of instant messenging?

Reportedly, many places block Facebook, including entire countries, and MySpace is blocked by many of these same places… plus hordes of well-meaning parents. There are perhaps just as many proposed workarounds for users to bypass the blocks. But for the world wide social web to work out, including monetization aspects, it will have to work in enough places to be considered ubiquitous. Adsense is pervasive today, and is not generally blocked in the way that social networks are. This situation is probably due to it’s origins, function, and the fact that it is not seen as linked to some of the issues such as malware and productivity loss that cause social networking sites to be blocked.

The evolving integration of the social web puts choices into the hands of website owners trying to see the ROI (return on investment) of adopting and adapting the technologies to their websites. The technology is not yet available to the public, and competes in various ways with OpenSocial, OpenID, MyBlogLog, and other services as the effort to evolve identity management on the web continues. If one’s website audience primarily accesses the site at work locations that might block social networking sites, form a social network integration strategy and implementation plan that accounts for these hurdles.

How will webmasters decide what works for them?

The effort to implement “social connector” technology on a website, plus the possibly-problematic ability of these technologies to to integrate with each other, may have the war of the social web won based on webmaster adoption. What platform will bring them the most reward (users, money, attention, etc.)? The ROI of time and money, plus compatibility, becomes important.

The first major text-ad service, Goto.com (which became Overture and was bought by Yahoo!), has given up it’s first place market position to Adsense. Being huge, successful, and in first place (and then getting bought) does not mean ultimately winning the war. The battles now in the social platform space include fighting to be the preferred (or only) identity-holder for people when they are online across the entire social web. The “first place” position of social networking sites & services is in flux this year. And the ability of each site to monetize it’s social base, and thus survive, may rely on sharing their success with thousands of website operators.

The near-term winners will likely be those that have a compelling ROI for website and social application owners, enough to get them to make the effort to write for a particular social platform. Facebook Connect seems to have this ROI coming out of the gate.

The popularity of social networks varies by country. The adoption of social networks within and by website owners may follow similar patterns. And, like sports popularity varying by area, with baseball, soccer, football, basketball, cricket, and others all competing for similar passion & purchases from fans, it may simply be a multi-player game with multiple fields.

Baseball field

Photo (c) 2008 Chief Social Officer

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