Facebook has published guidelines on "three elements of social design," which it says are: community, conversation and identity. Social Design itself, according to the company, is "a way of thinking about product design that puts social experiences at the core.
These are guidelines for building on the Facebook Platform.
"Social design is quickly becoming the norm for any successful app," says Facebook's Eric Fisher. "However, we haven’t yet emphasized why understanding social design is important and how to implement social design in your apps."
"Social design is a product strategy that builds upon users’ trusted communities,encourages conversation between them and ultimately creates a stronger sense of identity for everyone," he adds. "By putting people at the center of the Web, more and more experiences that naturally happen in the real world are starting to happen online. As we design new products, we should take into account existing social truths, thinking carefully about the identities and respective communities we affect and building the best conversation tools for them."
Facebook's Director of Platform Partnerships, Ethan Beard, discusses the concept more in this video from KnowledgeAtWharton:
"One way to model a social product is by working from the inside out: allow people to create an identity, let them share it and build a community over time," Facebook says on the Social Design Guidelines page. "Facebook began this way. However, if community is already curated, as it is via Facebook Platform, you can instead work from the outside in: utilize the existing community users have built, define new conversations and let them continue to build their identities further. Facebook Platform makes it easy to take the 'outside in' approach."
The company suggests starting by defining the domain or interest that is core to the app or website you wish to build, whether that be music, books, movies, or whatever.
Fisher says Facebook will continue to develop the guidelines, build new features on Facebook Platform and publish related how-tos to help developers understand the 3 principles as they apply to specific product verticals.