salesforce.com is integrating Twitter, Netflix is turning to Facebook to add social-networking bells and whistles. Netflix on Tuesday said it has integrated with Facebook Connect, which lets companies add Facebook features to their sites.
For Netflix, Facebook Connect will seamlessly link a Netflix member's account with his or her Facebook account. The result will extend the member's movie ratings from the Netflix community to Facebook. Netflix members decide if they want to use Facebook Connect and can turn it off at any time.
"Movies make for great conversations," said Gibson Biddle, vice president of product management for Netflix. "By integrating with Facebook Connect, Netflix members can now share their movie-watching experiences even more easily than before, allowing for greater exchange of movie recommendations with their friends."
Building a Netflix Community
With the Facebook connection, Netflix is building an online community by leveraging Facebook assets. Companies attempted to build communities in the early days of the Web, but Facebook takes several steps out of the process, including the cost, and offers brands a large audience where many customers and potential customers may already be gathering.
Each time a participating Netflix member rates a movie -- the ratings run from one star to five starts -- that rating will be posted on his or her Facebook profile and shared with the member's friends who have also enabled Facebook Connect. Friends can make comments in response to the ratings, an interactive feature Netflix is hoping will enrich the movie-watching experience. The movie ratings posted on Facebook will also link back to the corresponding movie page at Netflix so Facebook users can learn more about the movies friends are rating and discussing.
"Netflix is a clear leader in bringing innovation to renting, viewing and engaging around movies," said Ethan Beard, director of platform marketing at Facebook. "We think the social features in Facebook Connect provide a tremendous opportunity for Netflix subscribers to share their thoughts and feelings on movies with their friends in the Netflix community and with Facebook's more than 175 million active users."
Expanding the Audience
Netflix is the world's largest online movie-rental service with more than 10 million subscribers. But Netflix isn't satisfied with 10 million and its forging strategic alliances with hardware makers and others to extend its reach.
According to Phil Leigh, senior analyst at Inside Digital Media, Facebook Connect will help Netflix build awareness among a growing base of social networkers. By allowing Facebook members to discuss movies and offer ratings, he said, Facebook opens the door for new Netflix customers. For consumers that are aware of the service but haven't subscribed, Leigh said it may give them another reason to sign up.
"From Facebook's point of view, Netflix's initiatives with Facebook Connect gets people talking with one another and sharing information with one another, which is what they want. The last thing Facebook wants is for people to set up a profile page and do nothing with it," Leigh said. "This also underscores that Netflix is moving forward to partner with other companies to expand its service. Blockbuster is just trying to survive."