So Mark Zuckerberg was telling the audience at the Web 2.0 Summit the other day how he’s going to double Facebook’s workforce, presumably to broaden its appeal beyond its 47-million current users. (What, all those students and on-the-job time-wasters aren’t enough?) Here’s an idea for you, Mark: Make Facebook into a truly useful tool, one where you can do more than just post pictures and ping people you’re already in contact with anyway.
I’m not going to natter on about Facebook’s current pluses and minuses. We all know it’s enticing, yet I defy anyone to explain exactly why. Also, if you’re like me, you spend far too much time on the site, with diminishing returns for each successive session. True, Facebook does allow you to glom onto a wealth of third-party applications, and bring them into your page. So it’s not fair to slam the site for a dearth of apps. However, if you’re a casual user like I am, you can’t find these things. All of the apps I’ve come across are ones which my Facebook friends have roped me into.
OK, so here are my prescriptions for what Facebook needs to do to morph from a cool meeting place, which is hot today but could easily becoming passe within a year, to a site that’s the killer social-networking app on the Web.
1) Drag and drop onto your page. Currently, the process for accessing apps is confusing and cumbersome. Why not adopt a paradigm that allows users to freely configure their Facebook pages, and effectively turn them into their own personal Web sites?
2) Make it completely — not almost — open to third-party apps. As Zuckerberg admitted at the Web 2.0 Summit, while Facebook is open to third-party apps, it retains the right to drop any app from its platform. When this policy is applied to malicious apps, it’s fine. But if you’re talking about an outside developer who’s poured his or her whole company into improving Facebook, it’s not so good. Hey, this even means a Microsoft-type company could be cut off. Either you’re open, or you’re not. Facebook should be open. That’s two recommendations. I’ve got three more at my blog.