For Facebook, 2012 will be the year of the third party app. News, videos, and songs streaming down your newsfeed are just a “small taste of overall vision,” said Carl Sjogreen, director of product management for Facebook at the Inside Social Apps Conference. The focus for the coming year will be on enhancements to Open Graph, mobile and games.
Facebook recently reinvented the user profile as a timeline of major life events rather than a static “about me” page. The social network also extended the Open Graph platform for third party apps to include things like Spotify playlists on users’ tickers, newsfeeds, and timelines. Said Sjogreen, the apps are “a way for you to tell your story and to discover new things.”
Each of the activity streams serves a different function. According to Sjogreen, Timeline and Ticker are on opposite ends of the spectrum. “Timeline takes everything in your life and make it digestible,” said Sjogreen, and focuses on a user’s general interests and hobbies. “Ticker and Newsfeed are much more about what’s happening right now.”
In particular, Timeline favors apps with longer-term engagement, like Spotify, where users can say something like, “Hey, I listened to these artists the most this month using this app.”
With games, Facebook can take activities like high scores and other achievements to populate users’ newsfeeds while they play. On Zynga’s “Words with Friends,” for example, players can share their highest scoring words or the words they play most often.
Because games are inherently social, Sjogreen encourages mobile developers to create Web-based rather than native applications in order to make them available to more users. “I want to play ‘Words with Friends’ with my mom,” he explained. “I don’t care what platform she’s on. If I can’t play with her, it’s not a useful application to me.”
Facebook is working on making it easier for developers to integrate their apps with Facebook using a single API. Right now, said Sjogreen, “We are trying to figure out which [connections are] going to be the most meaningful for developers, and which we are going to want to build richer experiences around.”
Added Sjogreen, “Games are a shining example of how Facebook integration and social design can really be transformative for an industry.”