Today, Facebook made an announcement that should interest anyone who uses social data. Effective immediately, Facebook will be opening its data API to a select group of media partners. According to today’s blog post, organizations that are part of this initial group will have two ways to gain access to Facebook data:
- From the public API, which, per Facebook, includes “only public posts from pages and profiles of those with ‘Follow’ turned on.”
- From the keyword API, which aggregates the total number of posts on a specific topic, and provides the ability to display “anonymous, aggregated results based on gender, age, and location.” This will include up to 12 days of historical data at launch.
This means that users would be able to see, for example, that among people who talk about Breaking Bad on Facebook, the majority are female, 35-55 and are based on the West Coast (still traumatized by last night’s episode). If this sounds familiar, Facebook has done this type of thing a few times before; with the Talk Meter around the Oscars, for example. The difference is that this time the company is making the data available to media partners directly.
Right now, this announcement has limited direct impact beyond initial partners, although the company says it is “beginning discussions with other media partners and preferred marketing developers and will make it available to additional partners in the coming weeks.” As of today, media partners include the following:
- NBC’s Today Show
- The Guardian
- Mass Relevance
While it’s logical that Facebook began this process with media companies (especially given that Twitter has the lead here, having cultivated relationships with news organizations for quite some time), this move will likely put pressure on Facebook to provide public API access to more organizations, and on other social networks (such as Pinterest, which as yet has no public API) to follow suit.
Another implication–one that I discuss in Social Data Intelligence–is that organizations that view social data as business-critical (clearly the media industry has made this leap) must now treat it as a strategic enterprise asset. This leads to a whole ‘nother conversation about where social data comes from, what’s important to know when sourcing it, and implications and caveats galore. I’ll tackle this topic in more depth in future research.
As always, I welcome your thoughts. Please leave comments, and I’ll link to substantive discussions below.