The Abstraction Of Facebook Pages As An Embeddable Product And The Community Platform API

-Facebook Pages Logo-Mark Zuckerberg has said on a number of instances that the future of Facebook does not exist on Facebook.com. The emphasis is on Facebook as an identity platform and Facebook Connect which will continue to expand over time. If the entire platform is going to take place elsewhere on the web then it would only make sense that we begin to see Facebook Pages do the exact same thing.

Facebook Pages has become an easy to configure instant community platform and while I currently recommend that individuals drive their users to their Facebook Page, it would make much more sense to generate fans on your site. Right now Facebook’s API doesn’t enable developers to prompt users to become fans unfortunately but I would predict that this will eventually become a feature.

Right now I have over 7,000 fans that have joined this site’s community through the widget in the sidebar but I also have over 5,000 fans on Facebook that like to receive updates. Rather than having these as different communities, they should become one. Right now Facebook hasn’t signaled that they are going to turn Facebook Pages into an embeddable product but it is a logical progression, especially considering that Mark Zuckerberg claims the future of Facebook is off its website.

The only issue with releasing an embeddable version of Facebook Pages is the clear competition with Ning, the product of Facebook board member Marc Andreesen. Perhaps this product evolution was one of the reasons Marc Andreesen decided to become a board member of Facebook. That’s speculation though but ultimately it makes sense for Facebook Pages to evolve in this way.

The Community Platform API

Up until now the Facebook API has mostly been related to users, their relationships, and their profiles. In other words it’s the social graph API. As I wrote two weeks ago, Facebook Pages is the community platform for businesses. That perspective will help Facebook differentiate itself from Twitter (who has rapidly become a customer relations communications tool) and also justify the opening of API features for Pages.

One other thing to suggest that this won’t happen is Facebook’s investment in search engine optimization for their Pages product. This is a pretty weak excuse for not pushing Pages off the site though. Take a look at Ning. Despite the company’s willingness to offer the full community code to companies, the majority of networks are still built on the company’s site.

In other words, there’s little risk in further opening the Facebook Pages API and a ton of upside. Give it a month or two (maybe three) and we’ll witness the next evolution of Facebook Pages: a community platform API and an embeddable community platform product.

Customer Relations Evolved

One thing that I’d like to add to this is how this is also a natural evolution of customer relations. Right now there is a huge shift going on in which the customers have the upper hand in their relationship with businesses. With the emergence of social media, brands must invest in listening and then responding to their customers. There have been countless offerings that enable companies to do this but we are beginning to see a consolidation of public consumer communication platforms.

Customers Like To Complain Because They Know You Are Listening

One thing that’s changing is the way that customers communicate with businesses. On Twitter we now regularly see people complain about their Comcast cable experience because they have learned that Comcast will respond. It gives them an outlet for their frustration and a platform for immediate satisfaction. This is a fundamental shift in consumer behavior.

While many customers still have not learned about the power of Twitter and now Facebook as a customer relations platform, they all will. As consumers we all want to be satisfied and rather than hiding the customer service number on the bottom of the cereal box, customer relations has become a public interactive experience. So where am I going with all of this talk about the evolution of customer relations?

The point is that this new form of customer relations will come to be expected. If social media provides the best customer experience, consumers will use it. The only difference now is that as consumers learn this behavior they will go complain wherever they get the quickest response. “Social media consultants” will tell you that they go to wherever people are talking about them. The reality is that the customers are talking in three places now: Facebook, Twitter, and blogs.

There’s MySpace, hi5, Bebo, and many other social platforms but if customers receive the greatest response from businesses on Facebook and Twitter, that’s where they’ll go to complain. While Twitter has already done an amazing job at making information readily accessible, Facebook is still in the process of doing so. The next phase of that is the opening of Facebook Pages and the manifestation of this process as a community platform API.