I spent quite a few hours on Thursday anticipating the changes Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg might reveal @F8. The social media giant had already released a few additions over the first half of the week and it was hard to imagine what else he might have up his sleeve. He looked really relaxed and had this grin on his face and within the first twenty minutes it was easy to see why. In a single blow, Facebook had redefined and revolutionized what we have come to know and expect from social media.
Now a number I spoke to seemed apprehensive about it, why fix what works right? Wrong. Facebook realizes that with players such as Google and Twitter upping the ante, solely fighting them on features is pointless. It also realizes that the excitement factor linked to Facebook is fading.
Most people sign-in to Facebook daily not because they cant wait to spend time, catch up and chat with their friends, but because it’s what they need to do. Call it the FOMO effect – fear of missing out – of missing something big. It’s not so much about connecting anymore as it is about the satisfaction that you fulfilled some mandatory checklist of your day. Half of the time, I don’t even know what my friends and brands I follow are up to, the speed at which the data comes through my feed is crazy and I only pay attention when something like an interesting photo pops through.
Knowing this and a lot more about its customers behavior, I believe Facebook has done a wonderful job introducing changes that help drive engagement and become a platform for sharing experiences and stories. The stories of our lives. Think about it, when you get a new job, graduate, or do something really exciting whats the first thing most of us do. Post an update and probably a picture on Facebook. But with all that’s going on, we forget, our friends never see it and its relegated to the grey bar at the end of our profile pages that says ‘older posts’. Best of luck finding anything in there.
TIMELINE – Sharing your life and experiences
A picture is worth a thousand words and Zuckerberg certainly proved that. Timeline is a new profile, that helps present the “story of your life” in a rich, meaningful and visual manner. You can control every aspect of your timeline and design it to showcase your interest and activities. You can add a cover photo at the top, and features a few tiles that includes key points from your bio, and stats on key items on your page – number of friends, photos, maps, and even number of subscribers.
“Timeline is to express who you are. Just by glancing over the timeline you can get a visceral feel of who the user is.” – Mark Zuckerberg
As you can see from the picture below, a vertical line cuts across your profile page, this is the Timeline. The has a number of dots on it blue dots – where the user can highlight key events, and then small grey events – such as a status update that’s not particularly exciting. Users have complete control over what they want to highlight and what they don’t – by simply hovering over the post and choosing the appropriate option. Not just that but you can also control who can see the particular post. In addition, you can also add apps to your page, such as highlighting the music you’re listening to, the movies you recommend and might have just watched online and the TV show you are watching.
Check it out in action.
Zuckerberg also showcased Timeline on a mobile device, and on first glance it looked to translate really well. The page, was easy to navigate and free of clutter. Of course, I will reserve my final verdict until I actually try it out.
To summarize, Timeline is about the story of your life, all your stories and all your apps to express who you are.
Open Graph – Share your experiences via apps that are social
Like any smart manager, Facebook knows that an effective leader delegates the right task to the right person and that going it alone is not possible anymore.
Zuckenberg believe Open Graph will enable a frictionless experience, with real-time serendipity and provide developers and brands find patterns.
So it went ahead and partnered with leading players in the media and lifestyle application and service industry to offer Facebook users the chance to share their interest with their friends and subscribers. Facebook apps will add color to your timeline by integrating what you are listening, reading and watching. Thereby helping people discover new things. Again, you can control what apps you choose, and even learn about new artists, and books etc that you might not have known about. Isn’t that what social media and the digital world is all about – a recommendation from a friend is so much more powerful than what any software tell us to do. Once you add an app, it gets added to your timeline and you never need to give permission to out a post.
Hear Zuckerberg talk about Open Graph apps and the various partners they will be working with.
This is what Open Graph will look like in action on a users profile page.
As a user, I personally cant wait to see this in action. I know a lot of my friends are already up in arms about this, and I read several comments on social media. Fact is people are comfortable and change it hard. We need to unlearn everything we knew about the site. But I believe that once people see it in action, and provided it acts and looks as good as it did at F8, they will grow to love it.
I strongly believe that Facebook’s changes, represents a shift in the what we have come to know as social media. Humans are storytellers and at the end of the year and even our lives (yes its very dramatic) we all hope to look back and see what an exciting time we had, the memories we made and how we evolved. These changes have extended the boundaries of storytelling, and our ability to connect with our friends and colleagues. It’s not just about putting up status messages, and liking or +1-ing each others status updates, but we get to know people at a deeper level.
Now I am a little confused about how marketers will react to it. Will Facebook roll out a different version for them, offering them a method to showcase catalogs, products, videos etc. How will Timeline impact how brands currently use the page? How will this visceral mode translate and help them to tell their brand story and allow them to engage with their audience? Time will tell but brands and their agencies need to look into this soon and determine how they can leverage the changes to tell their stories better. Time will tell.
So what do you think of Facebook’s changes? Are you angry they messed with your page or are you looking forward to the changes? Do you think this is an opportunity for Google+ to attract users who are freaked out and just want to maintain the status-quo ? or do you think Facebook just blew the competition out of the water? Chime in via the comments sections.
Other interesting write-ups on Facebook’s changes include: