I’ve always been an early adopter of technology, social media and new websites that had a technological edge. I read quite a few of the tech news websites and love to get in on early beta and beta offerings from companies. One of my recent favorite betas that I was invited to was lite.facebook.com. On the surface, it seemed to lack a certain finesse, but, the biggest feature it had was that it was extremely quick, lacked the application spam and let me see 99% of what I was interested in.
I’ve loved Google Voice and was a fairly early adopter. I had tried Grand Central, but, it didn’t replace enough functionality with what I had currently set up with the local phone company. Google Wave and their Sandbox is another product that I find very intriguing. I have worked with Wave Federations and I think once someone develops a killer app for Wave, it’ll gain wide acceptance.
But, this isn’t about Google, this is about Facebook.
I was an early adopter of FB Connect. I’ve written a number of applications that I’ve not released to experiment with their API and have been generally impressed by their openness. Some of the information an application is able to access is a privacy nightmare. People complain day in and day out about Google and Privacy – perhaps because Google has to collect all of its market intelligence based on your surfing habits, and then Facebook finds a way to have you spend hours customizing your profile – giving Facebook precisely the information that makes their advertising system 10x more intrusive than Google could ever be. Back to the point.
In August I received an email from Facebook asking if I would participate in another beta project. I was warned that this one would entail a purchase from their store, but, in exchange, I would receive credit towards advertising. It makes perfect sense to test the payment system ahead of time on a major release – something many new electronic stores fail to do. I clicked the link saying I would be a part of their beta and waited.
Last night, a very cryptic email arrived with a link to follow to read about this exciting new product Facebook had to offer. As I read the page, I was already pulling out my wallet to get my credit card because the service seemed perfect for me. Having to maintain a LinkedIn profile and a Facebook Profile has always been an exercise in duplication. Facebook doesn’t ask enough questions to really be useful in business and I suspect if they put their heads together, they could develop a new angle.
It appears they listened.
The page was very basic, it talked about the benefits of a ‘Facebook Pro’ account, pricing hadn’t been established but they had set a test price of $29.95 for a 6 month recurring membership.
Some of the benefits listed included:
* Ability to store Work History
* Ability to write Recommendations on profiles
* Tighter control over Profile Security
* Additional Contact Method fields
* Certification badges
* Digital Business cards
Once you get in, there is a small NDA that prevents screenshots of the interface, but, it is obvious that there are hundreds of people in the beta. Even as I have set up some business interests, it is listing profiles in a ‘Business Network’ that are staggeringly accurate. A refreshing change from the People You May Know lottery.
So far, the new options are quite intriguing and if the quality of the business contacts I’ve made in the beta are indicative of the trend, I think Facebook has a real winner here.
I found it interesting that the beta was released which allows tighter control over privacy the day after they release new privacy options that the masses are hailing as anti-privacy. Perhaps this is why Facebook chose this week to release the beta.