The Open Graph has proven to be a major tool for Facebook to extend its reach beyond its own social network into the wider Internet, and today comes news of an app that could just be the first sign of how that might even go even further than that. Today the company launched a new app called HealthyShare — a place for Facebook users to set health goals for others and help each other reach them. Developed in partnership with GE, the app is playing off the focus on fitness with this summer’s Olympics, and represents a moment for a brand to make an Olympics mark on the Facebook platform — even as Facebook is not allowing sponsorship into its own official Olympics portal.
The app, once installed, lets users mark their progress along some of the more popular categories of health and fitness usage. They including walking and how that impacts cholesterol; eating where you can trade one bad habit for a good one; workout routines with contributions from Kevin Durant, Michael Johnson, Alex Morgan and Summer Sanders. Entries in the app get shared on a user’s timeline, and then that user’s Facebook friends can join in on a particular goal or provide encouragement.
If this sounds a bit like Quantified Self, it is — except that there is no hardware involved in the process. Not yet, anyway.
“To us, health’s not going anywhere,” says Linda Boff, executive director of global digital marketing of GE. “We’re starting with what we’re talking about today, around wellness, fitness and the Olympics, but the partnership here is one we see growing and expanding beyond wellness and fitness. This is very interesting to us. There’s nothing to talk about now, but it is very much on our radar.”
Moves like underscore how with developments in technology the Open Graph could take Facebook into picking up information from much more than just the internet in its great big data collection effort.
The effort with Facebook and GE also points to how Facebook is using its Sponsored Stories format to promote activity in other parts of its platform. It will use Sponsored Stories, Boff says, to make sure “the right people get exposed to the app and find it useful. We’re a believer in the power of Sponsored Stories.” GE is also looking at TV ads to promote the app as well.
Beyond Facebook, GE has had a longstanding commitment to health already, Boff notes. “We have 300,000 employeess and making sure they’re healthy.” But also, the company a few years back launched HealthyImagination, a portal for its heath activities (which is also promoting the app) aimed at the health sector. “The primary-care hospital is our customer. We are raising levels of engagement, early prevention and early diganosis. It’s really core to how we think and why we came together with Facebook to do this.”
A counterpoint to this is that some people could be shy about sharing information around their health, or feel embarrassed that they can’t run five miles or that they go to the gym every day. But given that it can be a lonely business tracking and supporting fitness goals, and that this is often a reason that people’s persistence in fitness falls by the wayside, Facebook is a good place to make that more social, and launching this around the time of the Olympics is a timely moment to attract the masses. You can see how it can extend to other areas that Facebook is already also touching, from charity donations to organ donation.