From a social and cultural point of view, THEY ARE THE BIG DEAL. They will change the way you interact with social networks and how you surf the internet forever, how brands can target consumers and will challenge the dominance of Google as being the most powerful company online. In fact in year from now any website which has not incorporated these changes, will look very archaic.
WHY IT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU INTERACT WITH THE WEB AND SOCIAL NETWORKS
Social networking will no longer happen just in social networks it will happen on every site of the internet. Imagine being on any website and being able to “like” that site by simply clicking a button, whether that is an article, a band, a song. You will be able to leave comments on that site, see what your friends have done on that site, what they think of the content on that site and you will even be able to see which of your friends are currently on that site, and connect with them on that site.
But then imagine going onto another site, and because your likes and activities have been remembered, the site becomes personalised to your tastes or to your friends tastes, or it even suggests stuff that people who liked similar things to you also like (this is the beginning of the “semantic web”), so if you have “liked” various artists/ bands across various sites – by the time you get to a music streaming site like Pandora, it will generate a playlist automatically of songs you might like.
When you do go onto Facebook itself, it will suggest communities you should join of people who also like the same things as you and let you connect with them and share ideas and interests.
Facebook have also introduced their own currency called “Facebook Credits” which allows one payment system across all app. So you will not need to have separate accounts for payment across Farmville or 1-800 Flowers, but a seamless centralised payment system like ITunes, a seamlessness which will make commerce take off on Facebook in a big way. [I can see print publications developing Facebook editions which will be powered by these micro-payments.]
WHY IT WILL CHANGE THE WAY BRANDS TARGET CONSUMERS
Facebook have made it piss easy for brands to integrate these social features into a website: http://developers.facebook.com/plugins
We will probably see a shift in branded experiences taking place on proprietary microsites and no longer having to be in social networks.
A brand will now know how popular parts of their site experience are, which bit of content are the most relevant. Not only this they will know the demographics and maybe even the locations of audiences engaging with their site, as well as how they are engaging. This will open up developing more attitude based advertising. Wherever consumers go on the web, they will carry their preferences, behaviours and friends with them.
And this is WHY FACEBOOK WILL CHALLENGE THE DOMINANCE OF GOOGLE
Google has a massive advertising and search platform based on keywords. Facebook is creating an advertising and search platform which is based on behaviors, attitudes, preferences and social connections [what your friends like and do etc], this allows the creation of more powerfully targetted relevant advertising and experiences.
These for me were the big out takes as people who work in marketing. For more information you can watch the keynote in full here.