Social networks and their prospects for the enterprise

October 18, 2007

Social networks are quite the buzz in 2007, with more and more people waking up to Facebook and MySpace, as they feel these networks are changing the way they manage and maintain their relationships.

Facebook and MySpace continue are leaders in this segment, and it looks like for the first time Facebook might actually be gaining more popularity.

Facebook vs MySpace

To me, it seems quite obvious why more and more are favoring Facebook. Going beyond the consumer space, it offers much more features to the business community to network and showacse their products.

One of the key aspects of Facebook’s success has been due to their open architecture and the ability for the dev community to create apps on top of Facebook. Facebook currently has an entire category of business applications with over 227 different applications  offered today, none of them built by Facebook itself. This is a new value proposition to corporates, moving from the old paradigm of creating groups or microcosms within a social network for their particular organzation.

Using the new open architecture, companies can actually showcase their products to a wide audience of engaged, tech savy users willing to use some of these biz apps in their everyday life. Life Zoho’s Office suite Facebook app which allows you to access your documents through Facebook. Their is a lot of opportunity for a company like Zoho to leverage this – for instance linking Zoho Calendar into Facebook so that you can link up your events from Facebook into your main Zoho Calendar which you use at your company.

Or probably have contacts imported from Zoho CRM, and network with these contacts on Facebook ?

Business applications for Facebook include offerings from well known companies such as eBay, Zoho, Jobster, and Blue Nile that offer integration with their home sites and data. There are other small business apps which provide To Do lists, appointment management, managing business cards etc. Other popular business apps include virtual stock exchanges, job finding widgets, and small content management packages.

But an interesting trend is that, none of these business apps have a user base which is close enough to other popular Facebook apps. Is this because social networking as a concept has not been understood by corporates or probably they haven’t realized the need for having a Facebook presence. Whatever the case is, Facebook with it’s open architecture is definitely moving us towards the “Web as a platform” era and this holds out a lot of promise for large corporations in advertising, media, CRM, and other departments in traditional businesses.

How do you think Facebook can be better leveraged by the business community ?

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