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What You Need to Know About Facebook’s Recent Announcements

Note: While this article is heavy on tech and social media, the following information is very important, and the implications for all of us in the sports industry are clear.

In case you weren’t aware, Facebook made some pretty big announcements at last week’s F8 Conference. Mashable‘s Pete Cashmore went so far as to say that Facebook “won the web.” In an F8 summary piece, my coworker, Neil Sarkar, summarized the announcements very well. “The shift boils down to this,” he wrote, “the barrier to entry for integrating Facebook’s social data into any site has been dramatically lowered.”

Social Plugins

At F8, Facebook released 8 social plugins. They are: Like Button, Activity Feed, Recommendations, Like Box, Login with Faces, Facepile, Comments, & Live Stream. Facebook calls them, “the easiest way to add Facebook to your site.” Take a look at the plugins when you have a chance. Facebook is admitting they don’t necessarily need to be the destination anymore. They want to be the Internet. Pretty soon, every site on the web will be Facebook-integrated. We won’t have to go to Facebook.com anymore to feel like we’re on Facebook. Take a look at NHL.com, for example:

By utilizing the Like Button plugin, the NHL allows visitors to NHL.com (who are logged in on Facebook) to “like” their favorite teams directly from their site.

The API

One of the problems developers have had with Facebook for so long has been their API. Taking from my coworker (and lead developer at VaynerMedia), Neil Sarkar, once again:

The platform was non-standard, laughably documented, difficult to test and debug, and rife with baffling inconsistent design decisions… Facebook, in F8, has introduced both a well-designed and open API and lower barriers to entry for user interaction… They’ve essentially stepped out of the way and allowed their innovation to be powered by the open market of the hundreds of thousands of developers who want a piece of *their* pie.

Implications

Facebook’s announcements have implications beyond what I can even begin to imagine. Social plugins mean that every (smart) website on the Internet will soon be fully Facebook-integrated, utilizing a mix and match of plugins that fit best for the audience. The newly opened API means that we will begin to see a rush of apps, platforms, and other products built around Facebook. Either way, we will spend less and less of our time on Facebook. The proof is there. Even though Twitter has 100+ million registered users, 75% of Twitter traffic comes from outside Twitter.com (e.g. third-party applications), because of their open API. From Tweetdeck to Tweetie to Twitterholic to Cotweet, third-party developers (not Twitter employees) have been working to build a layer on top of Twitter for several years. Now, the same thing is about to happen to Facebook (except Facebook has 4x the userbase).

Every brand that uses Facebook, and every Facebook user, will be affected by these changes. We, in the sports industry, are not devoid of the F8 announcements. It is up to you to decide how you will take advantage. We will soon see a flood of Facebook applications and products, and more and more sites will be utilizing the social plugins. The changes are coming.

Imagine a website that organizes the Facebook pages of all of the leagues, teams, and players in professional sports, allowing you to “like” any of them instantly, as long as you are logged in through Facebook. The site also shows you the most recent status update from each page. This site is now possible because of Facebook’s recent announcements.

Were you aware of Facebook’s announcements prior to this post? What do you think of them? How are you planning on adjusting to these changes, if at all? Let’s continue the conversation below in the comment section. Would love to brainstorm some of the possibilities together!

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