The Best Of Facebook, There For The Taking

Everyone is on Facebook, truly. Kids complain about their grandparents commenting on their statuses. Colleagues rave about its potential for social business. Sure, your four-year-old nephew hasn’t signed up (yet), but his mother has certainly chronicled his existence from the first ultrasound, and thanks to Timeline, you know all about coworkers’ weekend activities, friends’ anniversaries, and parents’ favorite articles, in addition to the goings on of all of your favorite businesses and brands.

These days, though, companies and brands need to be more than simply on Facebook. Having a Facebook page or application just scratches the surface of how businesses can utilize the social powerhouse that Facebook has become. It’s the companies that engineer the Facebook platform into their very DNA and enhance their products or services with the best of Facebook in unique, powerful ways that understand its potential. What, then, is “the best of Facebook?” It’s the relationships, interests, life events, photos, and interactions that make a product great.

Ubiquitous, And Up For Grabs

No other social network offers such a wide range of user data because no other social network is as all-encompassing. Twitter’s 140 characters, Instagram’s photo-centric platform, LinkedIn’s virtual résumé, and Foursquare’s geo-tracking — they’re all technologies and services that matter and have changed the way we connect, but they all strive for the one thing Facebook had from the start: relationships. Because Facebook made relationships fundamental in its algorithms, people trust it and cling to it, as it simulates what is or perhaps isn’t in their own lives, but is what’s ultimately the most important. Brief thoughts don’t matter if they’re not retweeted; pictures are nothing without people to like them; a resume is useless if you don’t have connections; and checking in just isn’t the same if people don’t follow your activity.

By understanding this reliance on relationships, companies can prioritize the best content available on Facebook and utilize that information to better target and better serve their customers. Whether you’re developing a dating app, concert aggregator, navigation tool, or mobile app that helps people celebrate special occasions with family and friends, Facebook is a wealth of information that can help you avoid reinventing the digital wheel.

Unlocking The Best Features With The Best Content

Thousands of companies and apps are implementing this strategy within their features and mobile experiences, but an even smaller, more exclusive group is doing this exceptionally well. Here are a few notable ones:

White-hot online dating app Tinder requires users to log in with Facebook so it can populate with your most valuable connections. Tinder is the case study for using the best of Facebook: photos, similar interests, and friends. It pulls from your most popular profile pictures so other users can determine attraction. If someone seems intriguing, you can click on their photo to learn more about them. If you’re not impressed with the selection, Facebook provides more information on your Tinder profile. It displays your mutual friends and interests from pages you’ve liked. If you have three mutual friends and both liked the Boston Red Sox Facebook page, there are already four reasons for you to connect.

HugeCity also connects directly with your Facebook account when you sign up and accesses your Facebook friends, interests, and events. This information allows HugeCity to showcase what’s going on around you — whether it’s a free concert in the park a couple of blocks away, or a housewarming party that you were invited to on Facebook — and, of course, which of your friends are attending. HugeCity uses the best of Facebook to make sure you never miss out on another relevant event.

Waze is a turn-by-turn, GPS-based navigation utility that pulls in Facebook friends and events to cut down on traffic and make carpooling easier. Social navigation sounds a little odd, but it works wonders. The app allows you to request your friend’s current location and set it as a destination, lets you share your current route progress with friends, and integrates with your events to take addresses directly from Facebook. Waze’s 30 million drivers help each other avoid traffic and find the best route to work, home, the nearest shopping mall, campground — wherever you’re going.

Join The Club

Tinder, HugeCity, and Waze are just a few of the companies that use Facebook’s friends, interests, events, and photos to not only better their business, but create truly engaging and thoughtful content for the millions of savvy consumers we’re all vying for the attention of. Yes, each of these companies is thriving, and they have become industry leaders in their respective markets for a number of reasons, but one might argue that this is primarily due to the fact that they’ve designed products and services around the most powerful components of Facebook — relationships and the content surrounding them.

Leveraging the power of Facebook means more than having a Facebook page and posting updates that you beg for your followers to like. It’s a place to engage with your fans, offer exclusive discounts and access to free Wi-Fi, tap into the relationships that already exist there, and bring your company to life in a meaningful way. It’s a place to take a look at users’ current relationships with one another and create new ones, as a company, between yourself and them.

Kealan Lennon is the founder and CEO of Cleverbug, the company that helps users remember and celebrate special occasions with family and friends by creating uniquely personalized cards on their mobile device in just 90 seconds, individually printed for $2.99 and delivered anywhere in the world. Find him on Twitter at @kealanlennon.

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