Facebook bestows developers with roadmap

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facebook_small.jpgADOTAS – Every time you turn around, it seems Facebook has had a makeover — most recently it was the addition of the live feed versus the news feed on the homepage, which took most everyone — users and developers — by surprise. Now the company is set to add a slew of new features and enhancements — but fortunately they’ve handed developers a roadmap to navigate the upcoming construction.

Zuckerberg admitted that letting outside developers in on future plans was something new for the company. That’s certainly a recognition that “Facebook Platform… is quickly becoming one of the most important parts of our strategy,” Mark Zuckerberg, cofounder, CEO and president of Facebook. Executive Ethan Beard noted that 1 million developers have constructed more than 350,000 applications for users and 70% of users deal with the platform each month.

The first change, and possibly the most important for developers, is providing a secure method for users to supply developers their primary email, so developers can better manage relationships with users.

Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow, who attended the announcement and spoke with members of the platform team, called this aspect “enormous.”

“[We] will be able to create strategies around giving Facebook users ways to opt-in to share their primary email addresses with the brands,” he said. “Email is still the number one digital marketing technology and bridging email marketing and social media is a huge opportunity.”

However, Facebook giveth and Facebook taketh away — Lazerow lamented the loss of app-to-user notifications. But the silver lining is the ability for app users to contact one another through their Facebook inboxes.

Another treat for developers is the open graph API, which will offer any page on the Internet the features of a Facebook page; in other words, using this tool will allow any page on the web to transform Cinderella-style into a Facebook page.

Soon users will able to access thousands of applications through a toolbar on the left-hand side — which sounds a bit like the most recent Yahoo redesign. That’s not working out bad for that site.
In addition, an enhancement of the search feature will include relevant content from websites that the user has become a “fan” of.

The end of this year or early next will also see improved analytics — the “Insight” page will be refurbished to include metrics on engagement, performance and more. Facebook is also preparing an API to streamline this data to developers.

In addition, Facebook reaffirmed its commitment to safeguarding the platform from spam applications in violation of the site’s terms of service. Lazerow commented that this will make the platform even more exciting for brands.

Lazerow in particular was pleased with Facebook’s decision to offer developers a roadmap, calling it a “huge step forward.” As companies like Buddy Media have rapidly grown from tiny development offices into substantial enterprises, it’s been difficult for them to plot out a course with the lack of foresight into platform changes. The roadmap, however, is emblematic of a change in the dynamic between developers and Facebook.

“By clearly communicating all the changes Facebook foresees in the next three to six months, we are able to make our own product decisions that are in line with where the Facebook platform is going and ultimately create better, more well thought out products on top of the Buddy Media platform,” he said.

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