I think it is cool Facebook are hanging their ad strategy off the news feed. You wouldn’t know it from reading 99% of the coverage of the launch but one, this article from Saul Hansell, actually describes the most important features and reduces the noise of all the other minor details.
The announcement reenforces more than ever that newsfeed optimization is the new search engine optimization or more correctly now that there are ad options, newsfeed marketing is the new search marketing.
I was thinking why I didn’t seem excited about MySpace ‘opening up its platform’ or more recently why Open Social was rather meaningless and I came to the conclusion that it was because the single greatest innovation Facebook has delivered is the newsfeed. Other social networking apps are scrambling to implement it and other applications are being designed around it but until it is ubiquitous Open Social wont matter.
Why? Because the concept newsfeed lands on the other side of the fine line between invasive spam and passive viral marketing. Every stupid invite and notification I get in Facebook I delete but I entertained and enjoy reading what other people are doing within the newsfeed.
So until other sites have replicated the concept of newsfeed, OpenSocial wont matter. Does a developer care that his or her application can run on any social network? Yes. But they care more if their app can virally grow. And at the moment the primary mechanism of app growth is through the newsfeed.
Facebook have been wise to create an organic (SEO) and paid (SEM) version of the newsfeed interaction for marketers. Much as the Google economy is built off of the search results, the Facebook economy will be built off the newsfeed results.
p.s. A shout out to Seth Goldstein whose AttentionTrust and Root Markets attention recorder were years early on these concepts of broadcasting consumer activity but didn’t work out because (my $0.02) they didn’t have the concept of a central, frequently accessed newsfeed (that is, the chicken came before the egg).