A company named Socialize with a feature called “Likes” makes you think of what blue-wrapped Silicon Valley behemoth? And the sad fact is that in many people’s minds “social” is equivalent to “Facebook.” Your app isn’t “social” unless you have Facebook integration, right?

But that’s not really where “social” ends. Social is about more than one person interacting with another, and until recently that did NOT take place on Facebook (remember when we used to talk face-to-face?). There’s a whole lot more than just using Facebook’s social graph—in fact, using Facebook can change the venue that people congregate in. Think of it this way: A million people download an app because they share a common interest. Well, the only place that THOSE million people congregate is the app itself. But it’s not really “social” to export all the social behavior to Facebook—it’s just a way to advertise through social media. Those posts are one-offs, not conversations

Furthermore, those million people are NOT all friends on Facebook. They don’t even follow each other on Twitter. But they do share an interest, and they do already meet (albeit virtually) in a common area: the app. So why does it make sense that the social interactions born in the app grow outside of it? How does that help engage the users and keep them coming back to the app?

To us, that doesn’t make much sense. If the app is where like minded people are gathering AND where the conversation started, then it makes the most sense to keep it within the app. Think of it this way: there’s already a community of interested people inside of the app who WANT to talk about the content. Why push that conversation away? Why give up all that eyeball time (read: impressions) to Facebook and Twitter?

Socialize harnesses the social interactions of users to keep them IN the app; Facebook integration encourages the users to leave the app. Of course, there is lots of value from leveraging the social graph that Facebook has built—we won’t deny that. That is exactly why we allow the users of Socialize to authenticate with best-in-class services like Twitter and Facebook.

But just because you have Facebook implemented in your app doesn’t mean it’s a social app. It doesn’t even mean that you will reap the benefits of “social.” By building a community of users—and keeping them engaged—you can not only encourage them to talk to each other but you can also ensure that their eyeballs (and thus ad revenue) remain in YOUR app.

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