Think fast: how can you make money running a social networking site? If you'd asked me that question, say, four years ago, when Friendster first came about, I would've probably come up with two obvious things. In fact, I'd say if you asked the average Systems Analyst on the street, they'd come up with the same ideas I had then: let advertisers have their own profiles, while selling ads based on people's stated interests.
So I'm pretty much flabbermegasted that this seems to be the gist of Facebook's new much-vaunted Social Ads platform announced this week in New York? Facebook, meet MySpace circa 2005:
Users can become a fan of a business and can share information about that business with their friends and act as a trusted referral. Facebook users can interact directly with the business through its Facebook Page by adding reviews, writing on that business’ Wall, uploading photos and in any other ways that a business may want to enable. These actions could appear in users’ Mini-Feed and News Feed, Facebook’s popular products that allow users to share information more efficiently with their friends.
I wasn't at the big press conference where this was announced, but I hope they had one of those massive balloon drops like at the political conventions, cause otherwise, I'm not sure how anyone could've guessed that this was a big deal.
And this just sounds awesome:
Facebook’s ad system serves Social Ads that combine social actions from your friends – such as a purchase of a product or review of a restaurant – with an advertiser’s message. This enables advertisers to deliver more tailored and relevant ads to Facebook users that now include information from their friends so they can make more informed decisions. No personally identifiable information is shared with an advertiser in creating a Social Ad.
So imagine GMail, except the ads go right in the body of the message, rather than along the side.
Speaking of GMail, I still think it's the best social application I've ever come across. I practically live inthere... and I've noticed that they're making it more social-networkey, which is fine, as long as they don't over do it.