Facebook wants Hyper-Like to be the new hyperlink, and other ways the social network is taking over the web.
I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said last night was the night the web – as we know it – started its change into something drastically different. f8, Facebook’s developer conference was held in San Francisco last night and Zuckerburg said what he had for us was the most ‘transformative’ thing they had ever done for the web. And the way they plan to do that is by empowering their developers. Although it was done in a better manner than the oh-so-elegant Steve Ballmer where he portrayed his ‘enthusiasm‘ for developers at a Microsoft Developer conference a couple of years ago.
The announcements made by Facebook had an underlying theme of ‘connections between people and things they care about‘.
The Facebook platform has three new components to help create and foster these connections: Social Plugins, Open Graph Protocol and Graph API.
The Graph API is an improved and simplified version of their older API (Application Programming Interface) to give developers better access to the Facebook platform and the data it holds.
Social Plugins: These 8 plugins allow websites to interact and engage with Facebook users (people). The simplest implementation is the ‘Like’ button which can be put on any object, site or page and when a user likes it the action is carried forward to Facebook. You’ll see an implementation on this blog/post too. Other plugins include Comments (users comment on your site), Recommendations (personalised suggestions on the website), Activity Feed (what users are doing on the website) and more.
These plugins alone take the formerly closed and walled social network much closer to the open web. But this is just the top layer. The last component, that of the Open Graph Protocol aims to integrate webpages into the Social Graph – or the very social activity of users on Facebook. What this means is, once websites are Facebook-ized, they start showing up in Users Profiles, News Feeds and Search Results. And it is these websites that are the things that facebook wants the people (users) to build a connection with. So you may connect with an activity, a company, a cause or a country – a school, a bar, a band or a movie; suddenly Facebook and the entire web is a graph – a set of connections joining people and things by ‘likes’.
So how is this expected to play on from here? For starters, most websites will now scramble to implement some of these features on their websites. Whether it’s as simple as a Like button or a full fledged activity stream and comments box; websites will now feature elements of Facebook on both front and back ends. Secondly, with connections not restricted to Facebook, every website then becomes a fan page. Websites now essentially have the ability to interact with over 400 million users on their turf.
Most importantly however, Facebook stops being just a social network in a corner of the web, and becomes a social layer that is spread all across the web. A layer that will start becoming an increasingly crucial element of the social interactions users make. Everywhere .