Facebook To Let Companies Establish Special Pages

Posted on May 21, 2007

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook is going to open up its website up to corporations and organizations. In other words, non-faces will soon be able to establish "special pages" within Facebook.

On Thursday, the Palo Alto, Calif., company will announce a new strategy to let other companies provide their services on special pages within its popular Web site. These companies will be able to link into Facebook users' networks of online friends, according to people familiar with the matter.

For instance, an online retailer could build a service in Facebook to let people recommend music or books to their friends, based on the relationships they've already established on the site. Or a media company could let groups of users share news articles with each other on a page inside Facebook.

Previously some companies have had pages within Facebook, but they didn't interact with the Web site's user networks. This move is significant because it could turn Facebook into a central hub for Web users, akin to an Internet portal like Yahoo Inc. Rather than using Facebook only to keep in touch with friends and going elsewhere for other content, users could now gain access to that content inside Facebook. That could keep people on Facebook for longer periods of time, which would also appeal to advertisers.

It's unclear how exactly Facebook plans to make money from the platform strategy, but one person familiar with the matter says the firm currently has no plans to share revenue with the companies that develop services to run on Facebook's platform. In that case, the main draw for companies that put their services on the site would be visibility and access to users of the Facebook site.

Will these "special page" also allow companies to add friends like they can on MySpace or Twitter? MySpace has many pages that were established by companies, movies, rock bands and corporate brands. As time goes by the leading social networks seem to becoming more and more alike. The WSJ article says Facebook has 23 million users and adds a staggering 100,000 new users daily. There should plenty of companies interested in reaching Facebook's massive user base.

There are lingering questions about whether a company like Google will buy Facebook or whether Facebook will head to IPO-ville. This latest move seems to take Facebook on a more independent path.

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