Making Facebook sing with IFrames

I talked to my friend Steve Golab at FG Squared the other day and we both got hot and bothered by a new development at Facebook that looks like it’s going to completely change the face of the ubiquitous personal networking site. The details are a little technical so I will attempt to explain this development in terms anyone can understand. Basically, you can now make Facebook bend to your will inserting just about any functionality (e-commerce, entire web sites, blogs, whatever) right into your company or personal page. So what you say. Facebook is for teenage wienies and creepy guys stalking past girlfriends. So why is this such a big deal?

Companies and marketers have been trying to figure out Facebook for a while but getting people to go beyond posting up photos of their dogs has been elusive.  But the stats are compelling.

According to “The Network” a news site hosted by Cisco
The average Facebook user is connected to 130 Friends and 80 interest groups and makes his or her preferences known through rich profiles and by posting 90 pieces of content per month. Facebook users spend 700 billion minutes per month in an active, relaxed environment where word-of-mouth is built into every turn. The traffic, of course, also matters. Large brands like Coca-Cola are getting about 11% of their unique visits through Facebook Pages. Selling on or through Facebook now has a name: F-commerce. As with most aspects of social media, it does not yet live up to the potential that many foresee and it has no problem finding both strong advocates and cynical detractors.

The shift if from something called FBML (Facebooks special HTML markup language) to IFrames. IFrames allows people to insert a web site or specialized page (think: shopping page with buy now, shopping cart, etc.) right into Facebook. It allows you to completely customize Facebook pages from a creative standpoint AND a functionality standpoint.

According to Golab, “This changes everything. Now selling products on Facebook is not only viable, but smaller businesses can afford to do it”. Check out FG2’s page altClick on “FG2 Swag” and BAM! you can buy a T-shirt. I should get one free for this post.

Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and even Best Buy, present their F-commerce pages through an iFrame. The advantage is simplicity, since businesses can create and maintain the content on their own terms — iFrames tend to offer the most seamless experiences for consumers. 1-800-Flowers and Delta do their selling via Facebook apps. The primary advantage of going to an app is real estate. iFrame content is restricted to the 520 pixel-wide middle Page column, while an app can control the left most 760 pixels — a 46% increase in visible selling space. The disadvantage of apps is that they are more difficult to maintain and they may stress smaller budgets within businesses lacking Facebook development expertise.

Think about this. Huge traffic. Huge functionality. Are we even going to need web sites anymore? Is this even a good idea? Will people buy when cruising Facebook? Time will tell, but in my humble opinion, this changes everything.

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