The Facebook Graph API is the backbone of Facebook Platform. It gives developers the ability to read from and write data into Facebook. The Graph API presents a very simple view of Facebook’s socil graph, which ties people, photos, events and pages together, using the connections between them to do so. Those connections include friend relationships, shared content and photo tags. Being that Facebook is the world’s largest “community” site, this tool can be utilized by businesses for a variety of things. First and foremost, it gives businesses the ability to target market their potential clients, utilizing the likes and dislikes represented in the data.
It can also be used to simply increase the amount of fans one might have on their page. For example, I play in a Guns ‘N Roses tribute band, and we ran Facebook ads, using the data chooses, to find people that are within 100 miles of us who like Guns ‘N Roses. We were able to add 100 fans to our page in a week for about $50. That amounts to 50 cents a person, in terms of cost to us, and that is very hard to beat using any other form of advertising.
It is also has other social uses, like gaming. Pictured here is the Ztag page for Zunga.com. By using this tag, you can play games and connect with other Facebook users who like the same games you are playing. These gaming networks are becoming more and more popular, and Zunga is one of the biggest out there.
The Huffington Post has also gained many new viewers to their site by utilizing different features of the Graph API, including polls about various topics; as well running current news feed streams. Because they increased their interaction amongst their users, and used Facebook to do it, they were practically a lock to get more viewers.
Many people have had reservations about such Facebook sharing this information. Even though they have some safeguards built in, it is still easy for marketing gurus to ascertain all the data from the Graph API. This leads us back to the whole argument regarding invasion of privacy versus Freedom of Information. To me, if you put something about yourself online today, you have to know there is always going to be a risk of someone acquiring your info that you don’t want to have it. All in all, the API is a very useful tool and the benefits outweigh the risks.