Facebook Buys Parse for B2B Tools, Twitter Testing Local Discovery

Parse appFacebook and Twitter are once again back at making important changes to their services. It’s a good thing we live in a world where change and progress are generally expected as well as accepted. Otherwise, I would find myself writing poorly of Facebook and Twitter in recent weeks quite a bit. Facebook has made an acquisition to improve its B2B and mobile offerings, while Twitter is exploring the power of local discovery.

Parse, B2B and Facebook

On Thursday, Facebook announced that it had acquired Parse, “a startup with a cloud-based platform of scalable cross-platform services and tools for developers,” as Rachel King reports on ZDNet. Facebook didn’t make this purchase (for an undisclosed amount) to acquire talent, like Yahoo did with Summly. No, this was about Facebook’s mobile plans, and represents an interesting move for businesses and agencies using Facebook for their marketing and social media outreach.

Mobile first appears to Facebook’s running strategy for the foreseeable future. As Jennifer Van Grove writes on CNET, “Facebook, once wading in the shallow end of the mobile ecosystem, has dived into the deep end and caused a splash.” The Parse acquisition is all about gaining the influence and power to then influence app-makers to implement Facebook-centered or Facebook-friendly elements into their apps. They’re shoring up their mobile B2B capabilities, something not a lot of people associate with Facebook.

Jennifer puts it clearly: “The more applications Facebook links to its network, the more data the company can collect.” The more data it has, the better and more effective ads it can serve up for businesses and agencies. For those looking to market more heavily on Facebook, in the future it’s safe to assume that using the tools of Parse, creating or having an app built that works with Facebook could be a strategy worth pursuing as part of a social media marketing strategy.

For those businesses and agencies that care little for an app and whether it implements Facebook-friendly options should still keep an eye on what happens after this acquisition. If the plan Facebook is following works, Facebook truly may be getting better data on users, and they very well may have a stronger position when it comes to mobile.

Twitter’s Local Discovery Experiments – About Time

In a move that could be a boost to small business and local advertisers, Twitter is seriously experimenting with a local discovery system. Mike Isaac yesterday afternoon on All Things D reported that “Twitter is in the process of testing a new feature that lets you discover tweets from people within a certain distance of your location.”

My first thought was pretty simple, “Gee, that’s neat!” Upon further reflection, it still is neat, but it’s also interesting and surprising that Twitter hasn’t explored this sooner. Both Foursquare, Twitter, and some other apps and social media have utilized location-based advertising as an easy way for people to discover businesses based on their location for some time now.

However, Twitter’s recent experiments involve making Twitter a much, much more social-friendly (and therefore more likely to be used and relied upon) platform. Again Mike explains, “Twitter could be infinitely more useful to me were I to open up the app and see something happening down the block: a yard sale, a car accident, half-off a tasty fried chicken sandwich.”

To me, this change would be enough to start using Twitter on a daily basis; I’m not the kind of guy who enjoys having to do much work on my phone or computer to find the information that might be relevant to my life. I use technology to find what I want, not what I might want. This change helps turn Twitter into a platform that can tell people what they might want, in an incredibly useful way. Plus there’s still plenty of room for businesses and agencies to take advantage of more users relying on local data.

What do you think about Facebook acquiring Parse? Is it good for mobile apps or not? What about Twitter? Are they moving in the right direction going with local?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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