Facebook has released a version of its Profile Link product which allows users to syndicate their content to the Japanese social network Mixi. This follows up on the recent release of the product for Google’s Orkut, and we expect more similar integrations to roll out as well.
Users can syndicate Facebook status updates, Notes and more with their Mixi friends. The product was built using the public Mixi Graph API, and does not necessarily constitute a partnership between the social networks.
Japan has become a major target for growth this year, with Facebook sending some top engineers there to develop a version of the site that better fits the country’s culture where many users access social networking sites through feature phones and touch interfaces which don’t recognize cookies. Facebook recently began allowing Japanese mobile users to log in to Facebook via QR codes.
A major obstacle to growth has been the entrenched popularity of Mixi, which has 20 million users. This dwarfs Facebook’s current 1,426,480 users, or just 1.1% of the Japanese population, according to the The Facebook Global Monitor, part of Inside Facebook Gold, our membership service tracking Facebook’s business and growth around the world. Widespread virality is difficult in Japan because the average social network user there only has 29 friends, compared to the worldwide Facebook average of 130. This means Japanese users are less likely to send Facebook invites to those who are not in their immediate social circle.
In an effort that may be designed to lure Mixi users to Facebook, the Mixi Profile Link not only syndicates Facebook content, but also pulls the user’s Mixi friend list through the Mixi API. Upon clicking the “Link your Profile with Mixi” button, users are brought to a Mixi permissions page where they authorize Facebook to pull this and other data. Facebook might use this data to help users find their Mixi friends on Facebook, reducing their need to use the Japanese site.
If it wants to grow there, Facebook will need to find a way to improve on Mixi by facilitating the uniquely private way social networks are used in Japan. Offering selective sharing through the new Groups product could be part of the answer, but the way in which users are forcibly added and not invited to join Groups by their friends might not match Japanese social norms. As the deployed engineering team designs the Facebook Japan interface, we’ll be here covering their efforts.
Update: We’ve learned that users can only syndicate Facebook content to Mixi if that content that has the privacy setting of “Everyone”. This prevents users from sharing to only a limited set of Facebook and Mixi friends, and clashes with the more private nature of Mixi users.
To enable sharing to Mixi for those with more restrictive settings, Facebook provides a button which changes their “Posts by Me” privacy setting to “Everyone”.
[Thanks to Bill Perrin for the privacy control screenshot]