BlogIt by TypePad last night, a Facebook app that lets you post to SixApart blogs and other blogging software like WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr, to your Facebook Newsfeed and to Twitter all from one place. It's the kind of app that makes Facebook all the closer to being a one stop social media experience.SixApart launched
The service could be more fully developed but it's certainly in the lead compared to other services aiming to do the same thing. A close look at the details leads us to believe that this could be a much bigger move than it might seem to be. Here's a few reasons why we believe it's so interesting.
Tying the Social Graph Together
SixApart is a leading company in the field of social graph experimentation and the most outspoken participating company willing to be critical of some of Google's efforts like OpenSocial. BlogIt is interesting beyond its basic functionality because it can tie together confirmed accounts on Facebook, outside blogs and Twitter - then place that information in the hands of a company dedicating significant time and resources to leveraging such information in the interests of users. BlogIt may be just a beachhead landed in the hostile territory not of Facebook, but of online identity chaos in general.
Blog Posts to the Newsfeed
Many people want to know when 3rd party RSS feeds will be able to be ported into the Facebook Newsfeed, something the company has been hesitant to allow but put its toe in this week (see Sarah Perez's dismissal and some commenters disagreeing at Facebook's Lifestream: Nothing to See Here).
Typepad's BlogIt won't post Twitter messages to your Newsfeed, but it will post blog post links there. It effectively automates sharing your blog posts off-site with your friends on Facebook. That's a big deal. The Facebook Newsfeed is the RSS reader of choice for millions of people - they just couldn't subscribe to RSS feeds in it! BlogIt is another crack in that wall.
The Salvation of Beacon
SixApart was an early participant in Facebook's highly controversial Beacon project. Beacon broadcasts user activity on 3rd party partner sites to their friends' Newsfeeds on Facebook. Almost all of the partners were e-commerce sites broadcasting purchasing activity and it was extremely unclear whether the program was opt-in or opt-out. SixApart negotiated with Facebook to make their implementation of Beacon entirely and clearly opt-in.
Now that almost any blog post, not just those on SixApart platforms, can appear in Newsfeeds - many savvy bloggers may do their composition inside BlogIt so that their posts can gain the additional promotion to their Facebook friends. This will increase the visibility of best-practices (opt-in) in broadcasting off-site information in the Newsfeed - that's just the kind of visibility that Beacon needs.
Make no mistake, Beacon is still very important to Facebook. Though the company made a very public move in apologizing for the opt-out nature of Beacon, CEO Mark Zuckerberg still considers user purchasing activity to be the best form of advertisement the social network can display and thus key to the company's monetization strategy. If Facebook can follow SixApart's lead in the way it handles permission to display off-site activity, and if BlogIt leads to a proliferation of off-site blog posts displayed in Newsfeeds then Beacon-type Newsfeed notifications could become much more palatable to Facebook users.
This week's inclusion of user activity from Flickr, Yelp, Picassa and Del.icio.us into the Newsfeed is a move in a similar direction - but blog posts written by your friends are likely to have a higher click-through rate than less frequently uploaded photos, reviews for random restaurants and URLs being saved primarily for later personal reference. Getting personal blog posts into the Newsfeed is more valuable for all parties involved than any of the first 3rd party feed steps Facebook has taken.
Maybe the thoughts above are crazy, but I don't think so.
The BlogIt interface is far less sophisticated than native blogging platforms, but many bloggers will appreciate the ability to post to their blogs, Facebook and Twitter at the same time. On one hand this could end up being just another Facebook app, the vast majority of which probably weren't worth the time they took to create. On the other hand, BlogIt could be a small wedge into a series of game changing moves in social media.