I am starting a report looking at the social capabilities that will be of use to business and how those integrate (or don’t) with existing unified communications and collaborations solutions (UC&C). One truism that I am incorporating into my thinking is that engagement — users want to come back and use a tool because it was easy, useful, and (gasp) fun — will drive adoption, and thus penetration and ultimately business value. This seems to be the way that Mark Zuckerberg is thinking about Facebook growth as well. In his discussion of the integration with Skype yesterday, he posited that user volume is not the metric to watch for Facebook right now — despite its attainment of 750 million users. So what does Facebook see as its strategic imperative, and how does Skype help it attain that?

  • It’s not the absolute number — it’s the ubiquity. If it is reasonable for people to find information or people on Skype, it will accelerate the momentum of adoption. Something Forrester has been saying since 2008.
  • It’s not the people — it’s the activities you do jointly with the people. “Farmville,” “Friend,” “Group,” “Like,” “Stalk,” “Status,” and “Wall” are all words with new or special meaning to users because they describe what they do on Facebook. This is the engagement point from above — it’s not who you connect with, but what that connection enables you to do with them.
  • Video is the ultimate communication and collaboration medium. I expect “Video” will be a verb for Facebook users, too – “Video me” will soon mean let’s connect via video on Facebook. That engaging communications paradigm will enable more connections and lead to more activities that people will engage in on Facebook.

Not to mention Facebook and Skype are two of the largest collections of online users in the world — reporting more than 500 million and more than 700 million users, respectively. Adding a connection to Facebook may just enable Skype (and by Skype, I mean Microsoft) to increase the breadth and availability of its new global peer-to-peer network. The real winner in the Skype-Facebook combination may be Microsoft — which stands to increase the value of its investment in Facebook and its acquisition of Skype by bringing the two closer together and providing users a new, easy-to-use video calling capability.

PS — I installed, ran, and used Facebook video this morning, and it is relatively easy, only requiring a couple browser restarts to run as intended. My millennial co-tester (my daughter) thought the UI was a lot cleaner and easier than Skype, so she’s ready to start using “video” as a verb.