Time to look at Facebook
VARs that haven't had any experience with Facebook might want to sign up now. It is a great place to market yourself and begin to use this social medium as a way to develop your own network of clients, partners, and "friends." And maybe write an application that you can earn some revenue with too. Facebook is a social networking site that formerly was the exclusive domain of college students, and seems like the successor for MySpace when kids want something more grown-up. Its scope has been expanded twice recently: first to allow members from the general population to join, and most recently with a series of REST interfaces that developers could build applications on. It is one of the quickest growing sites around - according to the WSJ, they have added three million users since this latest development. I was one of them and joined a few weeks ago and now have 100 or so "friends." One of my motivations for joining was to communicate with my daughter, who used the site to do research and figure out where she wanted to go to college this fall by joining several groups and messaging people that eventually formed a group of entering freshman in her particular dorm.
The Facebook open application ploy is a smart one, and there are now close to a 1,000 different applications that people have put together. As the Journal points out, a popular music sharing app called iLike gets more revenues from Facebook users than from its own home page. I am sure that there are others that will be moneymakers in the near future too. What is interesting about the applications is that you can see what your friend network is using and this way get a lead on the more interesting ones that you might want to fool around with. The details on the Facebook API are easy to find and seem well thought out. And this is where it comes in handy for VARs, because these apps won't take someone too long to build, from what I can see.
It is also easy to build networks, to set up your own groups (see if you can find my group called frosh dads), and easy to customize your own home page with a lot of silly applications. But more importantly, it seems the people on Facebook you ask to be your "friend" are choosier and have somewhat of a higher threshold than on another social network site LinkedIn that I have used for more professional reasons. I took the easy way of bulk uploading about 200 of my Gmail contacts to get started on Facebook, and I should have been more selective: Several people messaged me basically saying who the heck are you and why should I want to be your friend. That brought me back to thoughts of junior high and I don't want to get into that period of my life, believe me.
One person that sent me a "who are you" request turned out to be someone that I exchanged emails with 12 years ago and haven't heard from since. At least, he kept better records than I did, but it was nice to reconnect.
So take a closer look at Facebook, and let me know if you think it has possibilities for some of your upcoming marketing efforts.