Viral Channels: Facebook Wants More Synchronous Notifications

Facebook\'s Real Time Notification InterfaceWith the full launch of Facebook Chat last week, Facebook users were introduced to a new interface for receiving notifications. While notifications used to be presented in a kind of restricted “inbox,” now notifications are accessible via a red flag in the chat bar which pops open a notification “bubble.”

To shine more light on Facebook’s thinking behind this change, Facebook’s Pete Bratach wrote in a recent blog post,

Whether it’s to announce the giving of a gift, the challenging to a game, or the joining of a cause, your applications’ notifications will make a more instant impact. We encourage you to think about new ways to integrate with Facebook when you send notifications…

Because we’ve added a new interface, this also means there are more integration points that your applications can hook into. We welcome your thoughts on what new integration points you’d like to see (for instance, since notifications appear right next to Facebook Chat, maybe you’d want a link in a notification to initiate a chat session).

Facebook\'s Old Notification InterfaceFacebook’s intent with Chat, and Notifications going forward, is to encourage a more synchronous communication experience for users. Why? I would wager that Facebook’s average session length is very short (lots of “Log in – Check News Feed – Check messages – Leave” types of paths in their server logs), and synchronous communication sessions (i.e. games) are much longer than asynchronous ones. Facebook needs apps to help make sessions longer.

If you want to become Facebook’s favorite new developer, start taking advantage of real-time notifications. Have ideas for how the Facebook Platform could better support your efforts? Send them to with “[real-time notifications]” in the subject line.