Fuck Facebook Conversion: Be platform agnostic and use your own APIs.

Sorry for the foul language, but I don't think the message I tried to convey in my other post about building Facebook apps really came through strong enough.

I just heard an entrepreneur tell me that his problem with Facebook is that it would give him zero conversion to his main site.

So what?

The whole idea that you have a "main site" is dead.  Stick a fork in it.

And while you're at it, stick a fork in the widgets, too--at least the way we're been creating them.  Right now, most of the widgets that are out there are an attempt to squeeze the elements of a service into a neat little sidebar rectangle--a bottleneck created by one-way APIs, limited space, and underwhelming goals.

What you need is a site that is completely agnostic as to where it lives--at your branded dot com address, in Facebook, on the iPhone, or as a "powered by" section of the biggest media site you could possibly ever think of partnering with.

And you shouldn't have to spend 50 man-months customizing your site to fit in all these random places, reworking the architecture to get your square pegs in your business partner's round holes.  (That sounded dirty, didn't it?  So this is a PG-13 post.  So what?)

True "BizDev 2.0" only comes when you start eating your own dog food--when you develop your site's infrastructure so that you actually use all of your own APIs and portable modules to construct your site.  So, if you're a video sharing site, you have the upload widget that could be embedded anywhere and the API calls to display videos, links, ratings, plays, etc. in as many sort orders as you can imagine.  It should be a matter of cutting and pasting, with perhaps an additional PHP page generation scripts as the glue, to completely recreate your service in another place on another platform.  The iphone.yourstartup.com should do all of the same things as yourstartup.com and the Yourstartup Facebook app, not to mention the version of yourstartup that is going to appear as a channel in AOL's site.  And they should all have self-contained revenue models... Facebook ad networks in Facebook, appropriate banners for the iPhone, and whatever networks net you the most cash on the dot com. 

And you shouldn't need to "convert" any user of one place to a user of another place.  Sure there are issues of universal sign-ins, unique identifiers, etc...  but your account management system should be smart enough to handle registered users, partially registered users, unique Facebook IDs, phone numbers off the WAP site and allow you to tie as much or as little of them together and expose that user's history and unique data to them across all the instances of their site.

So, at the end of the day, you shouldn't care where the user winds up... everyone can access your content or your service in a form native to the platform that its on, but will the full functionality of whatever you're up to. 

Until that happens, we're going to have dinky widgets and namby pamby Facebook apps.