In a recent post on the Facebook blog they announced updates to their group functionality, which currently isn’t really a function I use, although I can see the benefit of using groups. Buried near the bottom of the post and later picked up by Mashable was an announcement about a new piece of functionality not for the Facebook site but to be found on sites outside of Facebook.
In addition to the other new group features, we’re also introducing the Send button.
Similar to the “Like” button, it seems a “Send” button has been developed which can be placed on your site. At the moment it appears only on a small number of sites (about 50), but if it is successful on these sites I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be rolled out as a social plug-in in a similar fashion to the “Like” button.
This new functionality interests me for two reasons:-
- Functionality such as this is abundant on sites and microsites in the form of a forward to a friend.
- It further cements Facebook as a facilitator of communication.
Forward to a Friend
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve implemented this functionality on a site. Its not particularly challenging to implement functionally, but it is actually pretty hard to make it work well technically. Forget the fact that IMO this functionality rarely gets used, it is nevertheless added to so many sites alongside the almost equally as pointless share icons. What you don’t really tend to see is whether the form you submit ever actually ever reaches its recipient.
The reason for this is that web servers don’t make very good email servers. Sure it is easy to actually send email but to make it get to its destination is very unlikely to happen. The reason for this is that the email has to come from someone, usually the person filling out the form. When this email is sent the receiving server checks where the email has come from and if it isn’t from where the email domain should be coming from it is likely to mark it as spam.
The benefit of using Facebook for this is therefore two-fold, you reduce the implementation cost as it will essentially just be a quick plug-in, and you also increase the likelihood of it actually working! Whether it will actually be used is another thing entirely.
Facebook Replacing Email
Email is old, and if you believe some statistics 45% of all emails sent are spam. Communication has moved on considerably over the last few years and the one-size fits all solution which is email doesn’t really fit anymore.
Don’t believe me then I ask you when was the last time you tried to arrange something over email? And when was the last time you did it through Facebook, be it via an event of via FB message? Which was more successful? Our social worlds live on Facebook and for most people its just easier to communicate through Facebook than through email now, but only for this specific use-case.
Now I’m not suggesting that email will entirely be replaced, it use is so varied especially in business but you could say that it may be replaced for certain types of communication. Up until now the only Facebook mail has really only been used within Facebook, moving it into a wider context broadens the scope for its use, Forward to a Friend is just one use-case there may be many more for which Facebook may be a “better” solution than email.
Of course there is an argument that such an important channel should not be in the control of one corporation but I think we are far beyond the point where that argument is even relevant anymore, Facebook simply is the social channel.