Facebook on New Timeline Apps: ‘We’re Going To See the Next Pinterest’

By Devon Glenn 

Facebook’s Open Graph has made it possible for developers of all sizes to tap into Facebook’s Timeline and post when their members listen to songs, browse for images, or read stories. Facebook’s Malorie Lucich told Social Times, “It’s a huge opportunity for startups. I think we’re going to see the next Pinterest come up through these kinds of integrations.”

People “gravitate to the types of activities they enjoy in the real world,” said Lucich, like fitness, fashion, and food.  The key is to base the app on some kind of action, like listening, watching, reading, or reaching a goal. If your site is about wine tasting, for example, users can post when they’ve tried a new wine.

In the end, all of the activity ends up in one box on each user’s profile page, giving members a look at what they’ve achieved throughout the year, whether they’ve logged every mile they’ve run or clipped every news article they’ve read. “It looks really beautiful on all the maps,” Lucich said.

For a startup company, the Timeline presents an opportunity to reach Facebook’s millions of users. Spotify recruited 4 million new users to its digital music service by streaming users’ playlists on Facebook. When Pinterest had its beta testers post images they liked on Pinterest to their Facebook Timelines, the site’s daily active Facebook user base grew by 60 percent.

In the last three months, developers have launched more than 3,000 Timeline apps that help people share their interests on Facebook. A recent wave of 60 new apps expanded the offerings with videos from VEVO and fashion from Pose, among others.  But even companies that weren’t lifestyle-related found a way to get on board.

RockMelt created a social reading feature to introduce new users to its Web browser and iPhone app. Launched in 2010, the startup puts a social spin on popular browsers like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. RockMelt has Facebook notifications, instant messaging, and updates from sites like Twitter and Tumblr built into the browser for easy access.

When making the decision to use the Open Graph, RockMelt CEO Eric Vishria told Social Times that “Facebook was a natural fit” for the socially-enabled browser. None of the other browsers had tried it yet, he added, “so we’re unique in that regard.”

With the Timeline app, users can turn on “social reading” to share the articles they read online with their friends on Facebook. The article appears on the timeline with the note, “recently read on RockMelt.”

News articles fall under the category of “safe content,” Vishria explained, which are things that people can share with their friends online without making things awkward. RockMelt connects to 150 “white-listed” sites, like CNN, that have safe content. “We want to make sure it’s a good experience,” he said.

RockMelt found that people were more likely to read an article that came from a friend.  Using the Facepile plugin, which shows the Facebook profile pictures of friends who have also read an article through RockMelt, has led to an increase in click-through rates of about 20 percent.

Users add an average of 14 new articles per day, most of which involve humor or breaking news. And once RockMelt’s users enable social reading, 75 percent of them choose to leave it on while they continue to browse the Internet. The most prolific social readers are between the ages of 18 and 34.

Facebook’s Timeline has also led to a 5 percent increase in new user growth for the browser.  To date, 2 million people have tried RockMelt and 100,000 of them now use it on a daily basis.  Said Vishria of the Facebook Timeline, “It’s a powerful thing.”