Facebook announced they are opening up their status API to other applications. AllFacebook says “Say Goodbye To Twitter” because in essence that is what Twitter is…a status update service. Fred Wilson says not so fast, Twitter is much more. Fred says Twitter’s public versus Facebook’s private model, and Twitter’s one way follow versus Facebook’s reciprocal dual approve model will make a big difference.
Foundations of today’s Social Networks - Instant Messaging was the first widely used application to expose “presence”, meaning if you are online or off, and “status” meaning if you are away, busy, in a meeting, etc. Groove Networks used “alerts” to advise you when something changed, and “read/unread” to let you know about new information or changes to old information. Social Networks like Facebook and LinkedIn took these simple “social gestures”; presence, status, and alerts, and combined them with a friend network model to create an entirely new communication platform.
Fred Wilson is a VC investor in Twitter, a brilliant strategist, and a good friend. His blog post this morning, which I encourage you to read, makes some powerful observations, more eloquently than I could. Here are a few nuggets;
It seems to me, and I am certainly influenced as an active user of and investor in Twitter, that status has emerged as the ultimate social gesture. If you look at traditional social nets, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, etc, etc, they offer many social activities; writing on walls, posting and tagging photos, sharing videos, listening to music, playing games, etc.
But as Joshua Schachter explained to me a few years ago now, reduction of services to the simplest user experiences is a powerful generator of focused activity. And that's what is going on at Facebook and across the social networking sector right now. Status is universal. Not everyone takes photos or videos, or plays games. But everyone has a status and it changes. It's also quick and easy to post a status message. And it's massively conversational (something we didn't quite realize until Twitter users invented the @reply).
Lessons for Enterprise Software developers from the social network innovators? There are many. In businesses and large enterprises email is the core communication and collaboration tool. Your email contact list is the business equivalent of your social network.Why not apply these social network features (presence, status, alerts, friends network, introductions, photos, etc) to business applications like email and instant messaging? Microsoft Outlook already has presence. Office Communicator (IM) already has presence and status. It isn’t a huge leap to add other social network features that could transform email and IM into “business networks”.