Cool Apps: What Do You Like?

It's official. Facebook is taking over the world. A couple of weeks ago, they made a subtle change. You may have noticed that where you once became a "fan" of a particular page, you suddenly "liked" it. At first, this didn't seem like a big deal. But it was. And it is. BIG.

Last week at its F8 developers' conference, Facebook announced some changes that will dramatically change the way that people interact online. The biggest part of the changes is something that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and CEO, calls "Open Graph". Open Graph is a new platform that will allow websites to blend their users' social experiences. They'll take the information that they have about your likes and dislikes, and make a customized online experience for you.

For example, if you have a Facebook profile and you visit Pandora.com, a popular music service, you'll find that they are able to recommend playlists for you, based on artists that you've "liked" on Facebook. Similarly, if you visit CNN.com, you'll see if any of your friends have visited the site and recommended news stories that they've found helpful. When you click the "like" button on these pages, that activity will be posted to your Facebook profile. It's pretty nifty.

Now, what this means for each of us, personally, is a big question. Whether to opt in or out of the instant personalization functionality -- deciding what you do and do not want to share -- is a personal choice, and an important one.

What it means for businesses, however, is, as I said earlier, big.

The "like" button, which you'll see popping up on sites all over the place (if you haven't already), is exceedingly simple to add to your own website (if you have someone manage your website, they can make the addition in about 5 minutes' time). It's a simple addition that has the power to expose your site or business to vast numbers of people who mightn't have been aware of it before.

When one of your Facebook friends "likes" any of your blog posts (or any other items to which you've added the "like" button), that activity will be posted on their personal profiles and in the news feeds of their friends.

This new functionality is controversial, make no mistake, but the possibilities that it opens for businesses are myriad and fascinating.