|Last week I attended the Facebook Developers Garage in DC. I'd pictured it as a room with a bunch of developers at tables, laptops open, showing off the ways they'd managed to build useful tools using the Facebook Platform or API. Instead, it was largely a presentation by folks from the Facebook Platform team - Ami Vora and Ezra Callahan. The evening made clear the excitement, both inside and outside Facebook, that the open platform is generating, as well as the general confusion about what would constitute a truly useful Facebook app and how a developer would monetize it.|
Facebook's rate of growth alone make developers want to be associated with it. Currently at about 45 million users, the service is adding about 250,000 users each day. Half of all Facebook users visit the site every day. And despite Facebook's origins as a university-based site, these new users are predominantly older. To attract the developer community, the vc's associated with Facebook have created fbFund, which makes small seed grants ($25K-$250K) to help development groups get a project launched.
Success with the Facebook framework brings its own challenges. TJ Murphy of Freewebs spoke about the experience he had with the Warbook game he wrote. It rapidly picked up 87,000 users, half of whom played ever day. Third party developers are required to host their own apps. So TJ found himself scrambling to scale up: currently the game is hosted at Amazon.
It's the chance of getting in front of audiences this size that is attractive to organizations trying to build their brand. How to do it is the open question. Most third party apps to date have been social entertainments: tools to share music, or book reviews, for example, or utilities to enhance the poking and posting functions of the site. Some of these are quite nice: I really enjoy Christain Montoya's Social Tags application.
But when a member of the audience took the mike to ask how many of the developers in the room were thinking of using the platform to develop a customized presence for individual client organizations who wanted to leverage the popularity and stickiness of the site, I saw no hands but mine. And the people I chatted with at the event seemed to be primarily developers... I met only one representative of a non-profit who was there to explore the possibility of extending the presence of his org via Facebook.
Despite the confusion at this early point, I think it is clear that social networking is going to play an increasing role in non-profit strategies in the near future - and that Facebook, with its developers platform and huge user base, will be a focus of this networking.
Labels: facebook, nptech, social