Facebook: the most unexpected new retail channel

May 31, 2007

Facebook this week announced Platform, branded as a way to “build applications the way Facebook does” — and with the same level of deep integration and mass distribution opportunities.

Why should you care?

The other catch to this announcement is that companies will be able to retain 100% of any revenue generated as a result of developing, integrating and distributing a Facebook App.

What’s a Facebook App?  What can you do with it? Better yet, who’s doing it?  Here are some examples:

  • Glimpse.com: lets Facebook users “express” fashion choices through the products they own or want and sharing them with friends.  Think of Amazon’s wishlist projected out to everyone with whom you’re connected.  Everytime you update your list, Facebook tells your friends.  All items you like are published to your profile, and you can purchase them at Glimpse.
  • Amazon.com: Facebook users can write and display book reviews of Amazon-held books on their profile pages, which can then be followed to the retailer’s site through a “buy at Amazon” button.  This is a rudimentary application and Amazon says there are more on the way.
  • iLike.com: scans a user’s profile and figures out what music he likes, then recommends and alerts the user about new music, what their friends like and when the bands are coming near them on tour

So here’s a quick equation:
24MM immensely active, passionate and connected members + a direct channel + 100% revenue take potential = the ultimate marketplace

I will even go to an extreme and say that Facebook just established itself as a new retail channel.  Think about it:

All this opportunity, and you can keep 100% of your revenues?  This is a no-brainer.

This is where people are going to hang out on the Web. It is happening now, and you as merchants and businesspeople can take advantage of it.

So instead of forcing people to come to you, why not go to them (to paraphrase Meg Whitman of eBay)?