Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on March 26th, 2009

@SXSWi: Facebook Connect Gets iPhoned

By now you’ve probably heard all about Facebook and the thirty people from high school you didn’t talk to that are looking to re-connect. Your mother finally has a profile and she just sent you a ‘lily patch’. By now even your ‘nanna’ is swearing off the annual fruit cake and framed photo gift in order to ask for an iPhone this christmas. By now, this generation’s technology has diffused up through ‘those darned kids’ and made it to the hippest of the hip-replacements, the savviest of the seniors. By now that place you could always escape with your latest techie gadget is no longer safe from the scared eyes of the digital ignorant. Have no fear, because there is still a place you can go to that will always be on the forefront of interactive technology. A place where digital innovators and early adopters meet to network, teach and learn: SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas.

I had the pleasure of spending a few days at SXSW Interactive last week. Considering it was just a short drive from the office, I would only be doing my duty as an SEO man to keep my finger on the pulse of innovation and digital culture. There was a buzz of tweeting around town during the conference, but the talk of change was coming from the direction of Facebook. SXSWi was a great opportunity for the social media giant, who now have 175 million users, to announce page redesigns and improvements to their functionality. One announcement that won over the crowd was the extension of Facebook Connect for the iPhone with some impressive possibilities of bridging the gap between the usability and functionality of social platforms.

Developers can now build applications for iPhone that will allow users to connect and play against other friends through Facebook, whether they are on an iPhone or on a desktop computer. Facebook is also working on opening up more of its site by introducing new APIs. Now it is possible to connect with friends and family easier without having to worry about what network, carrier, or phone everyone is using. You can play Tetris with mom through her Facebook in Connecticut on your iPhone in Phoenix. SGN founder Shervin Pishevar announced on of the first games that will be available on the iPhone, via Facebook Connect: Agency Wars. Users can choose to be a CIA, Mi5, Mossad or KGB spy, and select from different storylines and scenarios. Then users will ‘travel the world’ assassinating their friends who are also playing via iPhone and/or Facebook Connect.

For the first time you are able to connect and share across mobile and the web in ways that were not possible before now. One speaker referred to Facebook as “word of mouth on steroids.” From a marketing perspective, that can be a really good or bad thing for your brand. There are many who believe that in this digital evolution through Web 2.0, the brands are talking too much. Maybe then, if you want to win, you should stop a listen for a minute.

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