Did Facebook just change the game for news orgs?

by Shawn Smith on January 28, 2008

Are you one of those journalists/producers waiting for this Facebook fad to finally end?  It might be time to strap up and finally start figuring out what this whole social networking thing is all about.

Facebook will likely be here for the long haul, following a Friday announcement that some say will make it easier to embed Facebook apps/widgets on external websites:

This JavaScript client library allows you to make Facebook API calls from any web site and makes it easy to create Ajax Facebook applications. Since the library does not require any server-side code on your server, you can now create a Facebook application that can be hosted on any web site that serves static HTML.

That sounds an awful lot like “Hey Developers, build more apps on facebook and embed them on your own websites!” Excited yet?

I’ve had a slight problem with most Facebook apps built by news orgs because as a FB user, I haven’t seen the benefit. Notable news apps include the New York Times’ news quiz and the Washington Post’s news tracker and political compass – none of which have kept my attention or pushed me to explore washingtonpost.com or nytimes.com any more than I already do.

But allowing developers/users to embed the apps on their own site may be the key to building traffic to MSM sites using FB.

Web strategist Jeremiah Owyang says

This is a step toward the community now leaving the social network and move to other locations … This also means this is a ‘bridge’ to get active Facebook users closer to your corporate website.

Does this mean huge traffic will be flowing to the news site that embeds cool new FB apps on their site? I’m not sure. I still think the apps need to be interesting and useful. But judging by how much users love polls on my site, I’m sure FB apps can have an impact.

What should you do?
Says Owyang:

Plan on adding social features to your own corporate website so that visitors will interact with your own content, re-sort it, edit it, and mash it however they want.

Start thinking about the different ways you can leverage the social network’s huge userbase to push more users to your site.

Nick O’Neill at Allfacebook.com envisions the creation of a “social gaming platform that resides on your own website but leverages the power of users’ Facebook relationships.”

Can you think of any apps?

Build a Facebook App!

If you haven’t done it before, check out Digital Web’s Facebook app tutorial.

What do you think? 

This sounds exciting – maybe we can have Zombies taking a bite out of budget stories or super pokes at presidential candidates – but can this latest Facebook feature help news orgs grab hold of the socially-savvy online users? Will FB apps embedded on news sites improve the image of news orgs online? Will news sites become a more desired destination for young web surfers if they feature FB apps?