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Facing up to Facebook

When I write about Facebook I am happy that I did not start my career as a programmer. My studies in economics gives me more insight to the hype. What I am going to do now is talk about why companies should not put all their programming into the Facebook basket.

Just recently I freelanced in two Drupal projects for German based companies. Both of them have only a facing page on their own URL and the rest of their online presence is via Facebook. One of them is not online yet but it is a dating site that is moving from a complete website to a Facebook only app. I can't say the name until release but that is happening soon. The other is a messaging service called Zoobe. Zoobe is a good idea and fun to use. But Zoobe only resides in the Facebook environment. I immediately questioned this decision because for me marketing a business or an application is about using every avenue available.

Facebook represents over thirty percent of internet traffic in reference URL's. This sounds like a lot but the reality is most of that traffic is only Facebooks. There is very little going into Facebook applications and even less for those applications not using FB advertising. Probably most if not all of Facebook traffic is relegated to online social games and shared images.

 In todays internet somethings are still very important to online business success. As a matter of fact you could say they are necessities. SEO is what most businesses struggle with daily. Think about how much potential traffic is lost in the layers of Facebook URL's, competition with other applications and the limitations placed by Facebook privacy and security. Yeah, doing only Facebook pretty much throws a good percentage of the internet out the window along with all the newer technologies that may come.

The greatest risk for Facebook only companies comes from Facebook. What happens when an application gets over shadowed by a Facebook "feature" (Zuckerberg has said no to FB apps but features are something else).  The Facebook IPO is seriously overpriced and the result of this will be a push to invent and establish products that may be in competition with third-party apps. If an app is of those "niche" business ideas then that niche would implode in a blink of an eye. User's  notorious for brand name recognition and putting the Facebook stamp on anything will mean they will jump from the third-party app to the safety of Facebook like rats on sinking ship.

 There are limits to what can be accomplished in the Facebook bubble. This is demonstrated by Zynga's move to establish their own platforms and websites outside of Facebook. As a hobby or an extra kick to business opportunities Facebook is great. But Facebook is not a perfect place for a growing business. It has limitations in technology and cannot promote the forward movement of other technologies. Consider this, a baby is happy to be in the comfort of the mother body. For nine months it prospers and grows. But what happens if it never leaves the security and space of the mothers womb?

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