May 15, 2012 at 11:25 AM EDT
The Timeline Bump: Khan Academy And Quora Latest To Integrate With Facebook’s Open Graph
Last month, Facebook drove 160 million visitors and 1.1 billion visits to third-party apps, an increase of 100 million visitors and 780 million visits from the month prior. Thanks to the size of its user base, and the increasing power of its referral funnel, Facebook now has the ability to take sites from 0 to 60 in a matter of weeks. While this is true for content of all stripes, be they photos, games, or news readers, the most recent and most-buzzed-about evidence has been Open Graph video apps , like Socialcam and Viddy. Unsurprisingly, app developers and websites are eager not to miss the train -- the Open Graph/Timeline Lift -- and these video apps are not alone in their Facebook integrations. Now, both the cult favorite community-directed Q&A site, Quora , and the fast-growing, increasingly popular non-profit educational video repository Khan Academy are on board. And, as a result, educational content is becoming social, gamified, and more discoverable. It's friends helping friends get smart.
Screen shot 2012-05-15 at 2.18.35 AM

Last month, Facebook drove 160 million visitors and 1.1 billion visits to third-party apps, an increase of 100 million visitors and 780 million visits from the month prior. Thanks to the size of its user base, and the increasing power of its funnel, Facebook is now able to, in a sense, play kingmaker, choosing what types of apps and content see traffic from its news feed. As Josh points out, this is true for content of all stripes, whether they be photos, games, or news readers — or the most recent and perhaps most-buzzed-about evidence: Open Graph video apps.

Since integrating with Facebook Timeline, the “Instagram for video” competitors, Viddy and Socialcam, have exploded. Viddy’s “Timeline Bump” saw it surpass some big names in its rise to the top of the App Store rankings. Since integrating, Viddy claims to be seeing 500K new users a day, and last week confirmed that it closed a $30 million series B round at a reported $370 million valuation. Viddy’s success could be due to the Instagram Effect, a great product, its celebrity backers, or, perhaps more likely, it’s due in large part to its Timeline integration and Facebook promoting its content. Though some would say it’s a combination thereof.

Either way, Viddy and Socialcam are hardly alone. Flixster has seen referral traffic jump to 480,000 hits a day, up 10-fold from the prior month, while BranchOut’s recently launched, Facebook-integrated mobile app saw traffic leap from one million monthly active users to 12.5 million MAU. Unsurprisingly, app developers and websites are eager not to miss the train — the Open Graph/Timeline Lift. The latest additions to the cavalcade of integrators? The cult favorite community-directed Q&A site Quora and the fast-growing, increasingly popular non-profit educational video repository Khan Academy.

In a blog post last week, Quora announced its integration with Facebook Timeline, allowing users to more easily share their Quora activity with their Facebook friends. Users simply go to the homepage or their their Settings page, connect their Facebook account, and enable Timeline.

Once that’s done, Quora-ers can share questions, answers, posts they upvote, and people they follow to Facebook, with that content aggregated by type in a widget on their Facebook profile. In turn, Facebook friends will see the most interesting stories you’ve interacted with on Quora right in their news feed.

Of course, those who might be hesitant to enable this feature for the sake of avoiding spamming their friends’ feeds with every instance Quora activity, however, users will generally only see the five most recent upvotes, questions followed, etc., a cap that’s intended to keep the integration from overwhelming your profile. Generally speaking, the stories that do show up tend to do so because a number of friends all upvoted the same story.

On top of this, Quora also added a bit of granularity to its sharing options, as users can now share to both Facebook and Twitter when creating new questions, answers, and posts. You can choose whether you want to share a particular answer, for example, by checking/unchecking the Facebook and Twitter options.

The more Facebook is able to filter by relevancy to show stuff that’s created, shared by, and popular among your friends, the more addicting the experience — and this integration — becomes. At least that’s the intent anyway.

In terms of Quora, specifically, from my experience, it really can be a nifty enhancement to discovery. Frequently, we dont have the time to spend hours combing through the database, so Facebook integration provides a great alternative for finding those gems that would otherwise go unseen.

For Facebook, the appeal is transparent. Any mobile app or web platform that has a highly engaged audience becomes a great potential source of ad revenue. Quora, which definitely qualifies in terms of an engaged audience, sends its clickable Q&A content to news feeds and Timelines, whereupon Facebook can serve relevant ads, promoting brands and experiences you and your friends are already interacting with and, as Josh points out, as users move towards mobile, Sponsored Stories can keep the same model and become a big source of revenue.

In turn, Quora just raised $50 million at a reported $400 million valuation, which D’Angelo says will be used to scale and expand its platform. If AppData is to be believed, 20K daily active users and 180K monthly active users log in to the site through Facebook Connect — a small fraction of its total number of users. No doubt with deeper Facebook integration in place, Quora could see this number increase significantly — it’s a win-win for each side.

And considering that, as Josh describes at length, Facebook is controlling the news feed like an editor, curating the content its users see in their feeds and profiles, the close ties Quora’s founders have to Facebook could be a boon for its content on Facebook.

Of course, as mentioned previously, Quora is not alone. Yesterday, Khan Academy joined in on the fun, also announcing via blog post that it has added integration with the new Open Graph protocol to enable users to display their badges on their Facebook profiles.

For a little context for those unfamiliar with Khan, as users work their way through the platform’s repository of 3,200+ micro lecture video tutorials, they can earn badges for becoming proficient in three different skills or by quickly (and correctly) answering five quiz questions in a row, for example.

With its new Facebook integration, users can now click the “Share” button on any badge, and, once permission is granted, the badge will appear on users’ Timelines. (This share functionality also works for Twitter and email.)

After a user shares a couple of badges, just like the Quora Timeline experience, a dedicated section will appear in your Timeline, in this case for Khan “Badges Earned.” Users can, thankfully, edit or remove that view and if you’ve collected and shared more badges than can fit in the view, you can customize which badges appear and change settings for individual badges.

Not unlike Foursquare, if a user clicks on a particular badge (in this case on Facebook), they’ll be taken to a page that describes the steps it takes to earn the badge as well as a complete list of all badges offered by Khan.

Many educational platforms are on a mission to make their content more social and shareable, and this is an action taken by Khan Academy with that goal in mind. The badge experience adds a gamification element to its experience, but what good is collecting badges if you can’t show them off publicly to all your friends? It’s a great way to encourage competition among students, and for Khan, it offers an opportunity for exponentially-increased brand exposure.

Khan’s educational videos have racked up millions of hits on YouTube, but its name still remains relatively unknown outside of tech and educational circles. Now, with users displaying the badges on their Facebook profiles, friends that have no idea what Khan Academy is can click on those totally sweet badges (that’s a bit of snark, Khan definitely needs to work on these) and instantly walk through the process it takes to earn them, and, in turn, they are introduced to the Khan platform.

It would be surprising if content from both Khan and Quora didn’t get big play from Facebook curators. Both sites are fundamentally educational in nature (although perhaps a little more loosely used in Quora’s case), engaging, and have dedicated and active user bases. Badges and Q&A’s may be a little harder for Facebook to monetize that game apps and videos, but they both still provide tons of data on the user’s interests and behaviors during interaction on Facebook, with a peek into those behaviors outside of its network.

All in all, it will be interesting to see how much of a bump Khan and Quora receive from their respective Facebook integrations, and we will try to relay that info if and when they’re willing to share. But if Viddy, Socialcam, BranchOut, Flixster and many more are any indication, the Facebook Lift is coming soon.

For more, find Quora’s blog post here and Khan Academy’s here.



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