This afternoon Facebook is announcing an extended set of features for developers including a new Inbox API and Notification API. The first announcement is a big one: “The Inbox API allows you to access your users’ messages, once they grant your application the new read_mailbox extended permission.” That means we could soon see a ton of new applications built around managing users’ Facebook inboxes. The one downside of this new feature is that applications cannot currently send messages.
What’s Being Added?
As part of the new inbox, attachments can be created using the same model used for developing publisher attachments currently. This isn’t really an upgrade but simply part of phasing out the old Facebook inbox design. The second component of the update is that Facebook is creating a notifications API. This is a pretty big deal in terms of Facebook’s openness. Last week the company announced the Open Stream API and this week the company is opening up notifications.
What this means is that you’ll soon be able to access a large portion of your Facebook information through other applications. TweetDeck for example could provide you with an entire interface for accessing Facebook and you’ll never have to go to the site. This is part of what Mark Zuckerberg has continuously emphasized: the future of Facebook is not on the site.
What Does This Mean For Marketers?
Your company is building the hottest application to promote your brand and you’re trying to figure out what these new features mean for your company. Have no fear, AllFacebook’s here! For the notifications API your company probably doesn’t really need to worry that much unless you are in the process of developing an application which serves as an interface to Facebook. There are most definitely creative ways of taking Facebook data and displaying it through new interfaces.
The recent Shark Week promotion and the Prototype game trailer effectively illustrated creative implementations of Connect. However there have been few groundbreaking interfaces developed for Facebook yet although I’m sure TweetDeck, Seesmic, and others are working on new solutions.
Inbox API for Applications
The Inbox API will be the most important thing for marketers. Any custom applications should most definitely take advantage of attachments if they haven’t already. Developing creative attachments can help you boost your traffic significantly. One downside of the existing attachment system is that many applications have overloaded users with attachment offerings. Develop a creative attachment feature for the users and promote the feature to them via your application. Otherwise they probably won’t notice it.
What This Means For Developers
Do I really need to tell developers what to do with this? You all have figured out how everything works already and don’t need advice from a blogger, right? Many of the developers reading this site are too busy dealing with scaling their applications because of the millions of users on their applications. If that isn’t your problem however, you may want to take some advice from the marketing crowd in order to get your application off the ground.
Leverage all integration points as well as you can and you’re more likely to build a successful application. If you are building new interfaces for interacting with Facebook please shoot us an email as we’d like to know what you’re working on! If you aren’t developing a new Facebook interface, the new notifications API could provide valuable insight as to how your users are navigating Facebook.
As far as I know, no information collected through notifications.getList can be stored, however you will find that there is valuable data in this new API feature. Notifications include information about other applications that the user is interacting with. If you see a notification from YoVille for instance, you now have valuable data and potential information for cross-marketing campaigns.
Facebook continues its process of opening up information on the platform. What we have yet to see are the numerous applications that will take advantage of this new level of openness. Give it until the end of year and we could soon see just about all of our Facebook interactions being made accessible through 3rd party applications. What’s the next part of the platform that you’d like to see open?