Facebook launches ‘Actions’, driving social into everything

By January 19, 2012Facebook

Facebook’s initial partners for ‘Actions’ launch

Last night Facebook announced a bunch of new partners that are using ‘Actions’, a Facebook feature which lets developers make just about any action a verb. We can now expect Facebook buttons to pop up everywhere inviting us to declare our relationships to all sorts of things by clicking buttons with verbs such as  ‘Want’, ‘’Listen’, ‘Own’, ‘Watch’, ‘Read, or ‘Pin’. As I’ve said numerous times now I think the next big wave for social is when it spreads into everything that we do to make it just a little better. I’m not talking about new sites or apps, or even necessarily spending more time on Facebook, but rather the apps we currently use incorporate social data to get better.

Ticketmaster launched a new Facebook app last night that is a great example of what can be done. Techcrunch describes it thus:

What makes Ticketmaster’s app cool is that it pulls your Facebook profile’s music app activity from services such as Spotify or Rdio, and recommends nearby concerts of artists you actually listen to, not just those you say you Like. ….

In August Ticketmaster began allowing you to tag the seats your purchase with your Facebook profile. That way friends who are deciding what seats to buy can see where yours are select ones close to you. People are a lot more willing to buy a single ticket to an assigned seat show if they can sit next to their friends. This is one example of how optimizing for the customer experience can also benefit the company’s bottom line.

Ticketmaster’s new canvas app brings the entire event discovery and ticket purchase flow within Facebook. You’re shown a feed of concerts your friends have RSVP’d to or shared that they’ve bought tickets to, followed by personal recommendations. Thanks to Facebook data permissions, it can suggest nearby events based on your Likes and listening activity without having to ask your preferences.

The brilliance of this app, and other Facebook Action enabled services, is that they make life better for the consumer without requiring any incremental effort. The automatic import of data into Facebook’s interest graph from apps like Spotify and The Guardian coupled with the one click data capture using the new ‘Actions’ are the enablers for this new functionality. Perhaps the most ingenious thing about Facebook is the way it enables such seamless data capture.

Facebook’s newish redesigns, including the Timeline layout, are an important part of this story because they separate status updates and deliberate shares from the automated shares that now come in the top right hand corner. I also think that because the timeline makes it easier to look back at what we’ve done in the past people will start to use Facebook as a personal record of where they have been and what they have done, encouraging more sharing. This was possible before, but the old UI made it too painful in practice.

Looking at it all together Facebook’s grand plan to be an important part of everything we do becomes clearer. They are, of course, doing this because the data they get enables huge advertising dollars and probably a massive increase in transactional revenues via Facebook credits (note that Ticketmaster now allows purchases within Facebook). They are also a natural monopoly – the bigger they get the harder it gets for anyone to touch them, from the perspective of user numbers, quality and depth of data, and technical sophistaction. I predict more anti-trust skirmishes.

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