I organized a Facebook Group for Utah CEOs who have a Facebook strategy or want to develop one. I wish I could change the name of the Facebook Group, but Facebook doesn’t allow that. I can see why. What if someone set up a group called “Mothers Against Drunk Driving” and got a million members, and then arbitrarily decided to change the name of the group to “We Love Beer.” The creator of a group can control a lot of things, but can’t change the name after people have joined it.
If I could change the group name I would broaden it to include any Utah Executive (not just CEOs) and also to broaden it to include Facebook, OpenSocial, and other major web sites such as Yahoo that are opening up their platforms to third-party developers.
At CES I heard a forecast that 1.2 billion people will be using social networks by 2012. On Wikipedia’s excellent list of social networks I count 26 that have nearly 10 million users already.
There are opportunities everywhere you look to build social networking applications or widgets that can spread throughout the web. And there are companies that can help you get started:
- Widgetbox, a VC-funded company (Hummer Winblad), helps companies build and distribute widgets. They claim that 10% of the Facebook applications started as widgets that have migrated to Facebook. They announced last week a Bebo accelerator that can help a widget turn into a Bebo application. (Bebo is a massive social network that opened up last week to third party applications, just like Facebook.)
- KickApps has raised $18 million to date. It provides widgets and social networking components for a fee. I spoke with a KickApps executive at CES. He said they charge for their applications and widgets based on page views/usage. So if you need a video player with social networking functionality built it for your web site, you don’t have to build it from scratch. It also appears that they can provide you with your own white label social network like Ning.
- Ning allows anyone to quickly build their own social network on its platform. Founded by Marc Andreesen, Ning reached 100,000 social networks hosted back in September.
- FBFactory.com claims to be the first company that exclusively builds Facebook apps for customers. They have a growing list of applications they have built.
So, if you are a Utah Executive and you would like to learn more about how to develop a strategy that can help you reach the 1.2 billion people who are going to be using social networks in the next 4 years, and how to do it inexpensively and virally, sign up for this Facebook group, and plan on attending our lunch meeting next week in Provo.