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A Facebook Social Commerce Primer

  |  September 27, 2011   |  Comments

Defining social shopping actions and objects (aka verbs and nouns).

We were all eyes and ears last week listening to Facebook's string of announcements at F8. Notably, Facebook announced a new profile design called Timeline, a Ticker, smarter friend lists, and other personal profile items. The good news for businesses, marketers, social commerce, and developers is a new class of applications called Lifestyle Apps for the Open Graph Beta. Facebook launched Lifestyle Apps with a large select group of partners including, Spotify, Turntable, Netflix, Foodspotting, and The Wall Street Journal.

A few Facebook definitions to level the playing field:

Facebook Social Graph

At Facebook's core is the social graph; it represents the people and connections we have to our friends, acquaintances, and communities paired with the activities we do in real life and around the web.

Facebook Open Graph Beta

In 2010, Facebook extended the Facebook social graph with Open Graph protocol that allowed people to "like" pages and third-party websites across the web. Last week, Facebook extended the Open Graph - calling it Open Graph Beta - to third-party applications to include arbitrary actions and objects.

"We think this is going to make it possible to build a completely new class of apps that wasn't possible before," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Arbitrary actions can best be described as verbs, preferably lifestyle verbs such as cook, listen, shop, and read. Objects can be defined as nouns associated with the actions (verbs) such as recipe, music, shoes, and books. To make it more interesting, these actions and objects (nouns and verbs) can now be shared throughout a user's Facebook Timeline, News Feed, and Ticker, enabling apps to become a key part of the user's and their friends' experience on Facebook.

"This time, we're going to let you add anything you like and connect to an order of magnitude more things than before. Now you don't have to 'like' a book, you can say you 'read it'. Now you don't have to like a movie, you can say you 'watched it'.

Before we added nouns so you could 'like' anything you wanted. This year we're adding verbs."

The next-generation social shopping experiences will get more personal, allowing consumers to share more. Consumers will be able to share their shopping thoughts through a wide array of shopping verbs, such as share, like, own, heart, bought, want, wish, and sold - the list of shopping verbs is really endless.

A few more Facebook definitions to better understand the new social commerce experience.


Rumored to be live in beta in a few weeks, Facebook Timeline organizes your life in reverse chronological order based on the content you've shared on your Facebook profile. The story of your life includes the pictures you've uploaded, the apps you've installed, games you've played, music you've loved, movies you watched, and could of course include your shopping history.

"Timeline is the story of your life...in a new way to express who you are," Zuckerberg said when announcing the new feature.


The new Facebook Ticker can be found on the right-hand side of the personal Facebook page and lets users see all their friends' activity in real time. It gives users a quick real-time snapshot of stories as they happen. A user can see their friends' stories, the activities from pages they "like," and apps they've installed. When you hover over an item on ticker, the full story is visible and the user can join the conversation as it happens, or as Spotify demonstrated, listening to songs with your friends. Ticker updates itself as stories happen. Social shopping in real time certainly has its possibilities.

The New F-Commerce Mantra

Sharing social commerce actions and verbs on Facebook will be the new mantra for F-commerce. When an action is published, the activity can appear in the user's News Feed and friends' News Feeds and the action can appear in their friends' Ticker and in their personal Timeline. So when a user is shopping, buying, or wanting in the local store a new pair of shoes, jeans, or car, she can publish this activity through an app on her mobile device or laptop to her Timeline, News Feed, or Ticker and share the activity with her Facebook Social Graph.

Let the social commerce app development begin!


You can find a high-resolution image of the Facebook Social Commerce Grammar Lesson on SlideShare.

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Janice Diner

Janice Diner is an award-winning creative director and technologist working in the area of social and emerging media technology and founding partner at Horizon Studios. Janice and her team built CATALYSTA, a sales force activation platform that engages, motivates, and rewards sales teams.

She is a pioneer brand builder in Facebook, serves as an advisor at the MaRS Discovery District, and was a judge at the Cannes Advertising Lions. Janice has a track record of accomplishment developing multiple social initiatives for global brands such as Motorola, LinkedIn Canada, TSN, Sony PlayStation, Hertz Car Rental, LexisNexis, to name a few.

Prior to starting Horizon Studios, Janice has held senior positions at Syncapse, Euro Havas, and Interpublic (Segal Communications).

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