Facebook Graph API: What types of information can be accessed using the Facebook API, and how a business could make use of the Facebook API

Image-2“Social platforms would now focus on the Web, not social networks themselves.” That’s how Mark Zuckerberg described Facebook’s vision when he announced the Open Graph in April 2010. Speaking at the f8 Developer Conference, Zuckerberg described an enhanced Facebook API and supporting tools that would give marketers new ways to make sense of a user’s preferences, passions and connections, which he characterized at as the “objects” of their lives.

The Graph API is the primary way to get data in and out of Facebook’s social graph. It’s a low-level HTTP-based API that you can use to query data, post new stories, create check-ins or any of the other tasks that an app might need to do. Facebook’s Open Graph allows us to define new objects and actions in a user’s social graph, and the way that you create new instances of those actions and objects is via the Graph API. The Graph API is also the underlying mechanism that’s used by Facebook’s iOS, Android, PHP and JavaScript toolkits. The social graph itself is a graph in the computer science sense. It’s not a simple table of data. It’s a series of nodes which all connect to each other.

The types of information that can be accessed using the Facebook API are information about the customers. For example, when using Facebook API, customers can get their first and last name, user page, username, gender, and location.  If the user has other types of information that they want to provide the user with, then it is possible to include these types of information as well. In addition, customers can also retrieve their mission, their API, how many like they have, their ID, and what type of page this user has.Optimal-Image

Facebook’s Graph API gives marketers a powerful new tool to understand their fans and customers. Graph Search allows users to conduct complex queries about people, places, photos and interests. It begins to open up the wealth of data stored in Facebook and make it accessible to everyday users. Businesses can use this information to conduct market research about their existing fans and potential customers.

A business could make use of the Facebook API by getting certain kinds of data about their customers in a mobile application by making it easier for users to give them their information. Users usually don’t care at all to give their consumer data away for free, and companies aren’t generally willing to pay money to its consumers for their consumer data. One idea is that a mobile website can use some sort of gimmick to get users to allow Facebook to access their information, such as: See what your friends recommend, and since customers generally trust friend referrals, then users will click on the API and end up giving away their information. After this is done, the types of products that they are interested can be found out by the website, and this kind of information can be advertised to them in order for the website in question to profit. A website could use this information to find out about its general customer base. This would be an indicator as to what kinds of products and/or information that the company would be better to have on its website.

Some companies have already been mining Facebook’s Ads API for these types of insights. For instance, Optimal offers tools like “Keyword Expander” and “Audience Matrix” to let businesses dive into Facebook’s graph and gather information that can improve their marketing efforts on and off Facebook, but it charges for this service.

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