November 14, 2009
A year ago the venture community scoffed at application startups who were dependent on Facebook. Today, Facebook is not just where you want your app to run, it is also your most important tool (through Connect) for driving traffic to your site.
To my mind, this makes Facebook the new Google.
The power of Google over the web was manifested by the emergence of SEO and SEM as cottage industries in and of themselves. In the early days, SEO was a dirty little secret that sites like About.com and IGN used to build audiences far bigger audiences than could less insightful competitors. But then the rest of the world caught on and SEO/SEM became a standard part of web marketing.
Today, understanding how to leverage Facebook is eclipsing the importance of SEO/SEM as the future of web marketing. Some of our portfolio entrepreneurs are all over this, and those who aren’t are getting an earful from us on this topic.
Gregg Spiridellis, founder and CEO of our portfolio company JibJab, recently posted on Inside Facebook on the dramatic impact Facebook Connect has had on JibJab’s user growth. JibJab was one of the masters of using email to drive viral marketing. But using Connect dwarfed the power of email. As Gregg wrote:
It took us 8 years to reach 1.5 million registered users in the era of email. It took us only 5 months to acquire the same number of users on Facebook.
We used to get 2 to 3 email recipients for every piece of content shared by a user. Today, we are seeing anywhere from 12 to 20 clicks back to JibJab.com for each post into the stream. Because of this, we have completely subordinated email to Facebook stream publishing in our product experience on JibJab.com.
Another portfolio company of ours, LOLapps, has not only learned the power of the Facebook platform but in fact is building a business out of helping app developers publish on Facebook. Originally focused on enabling Facebook end users become app developers, LOLapps recently has launched a platform for game developers to build and publish games on Facebook. While still in its early days, early signs are promising as the first two games launched on the platform were both among the top 10 fastest growing games on Facebook last week.
And yet a third Polaris portfolio company, Sprout, is building a business helping brands build and publish social advertising campaigns on Facebook (and other social networks).
That giant sucking sound you here? It’s Facebook, pulling users, entrepreneurs, brands and web businesses into its grasp.