Suddenly the bevy of changes Facebook has been rolling out the past few days (subscriptions, the social ticker on the Newsfeed) makes sense.
Today, during the social networking behemoth’s f8 developer conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a slew of new design layouts and updates. Put into the context of these updates, the motivation for changes to the Facebook Newsfeed, which confounded many, became clearer.
By far, the most substantial change is Facebook’s unveiling of the Timeline – the company’s new vision for the personal profile.
Part scrapbook, part interactive timeline, Facebook’s goal with the Timeline is to provide an easy-to-peruse view of your life via your profile. At top will be a cover, which is the large photo you choose to have the top of your timeline, kind of like a big banner.
The timeline stretches from the activities you post today all the way through birth. At the top, the most recent activities take prominence and as you scroll down the activities condense, with the most important events taking the most space. You can change your timeline by starring content you think is more important, which causes it to take up more space, or even delete content you want removed. You can also add content, such as photos and video, to the years before you joined Facebook or before Facebook even existed.
(This video explains it well.)
A separate grey timeline exists within your timeline. These are events and updates that Facebook has deemed less significant. You can make them more significant by starring them.
Facebook plans to roll out timelines over the next couple months.
Just another example of how Facebook is trying to consolidate widespread Web-based commerce onto their social graph. Zuckerberg showed how app-makers would be able to piggyback onto users social timeline. He said this will create a “frictionless” system where activity from the apps I connect to my Facebook profile (Spotify, Nike, eventually Netflix, etc.) are automatically fed to my timeline and appear in my friends’ social tickers. This is the very reason for the ticker: to keep from gumming up others’ Newsfeeds with our more mundane updates.
By “frictionless” Zuckerberg means that what you do on a third-party app will automatically be fed to Facebook. So if I am listening to a song on Spotify, my friends will see this in their ticker. And not only will they be able to comment on my listening to that song, they will also be able to listen to the same song without ever having to leave Facebook.
Facebook envisions this for all sorts of lifestyle apps – from collecting the meals we eat to mapping the runs we take – and says it will be easier for people to discover more products and services based on our peers’ tastes.
The impact for marketers could be very real. Integrated apps are clearly how Facebook sees the future. If brands want to build impressions outside of purchasing ads, they will need to build apps that can seamlessly feed into users' timelines and tickers.
But that will be a tricky situation for some marketers. While it may build awareness and discovery, you also surrender a certain amount of inbound traffic and conversion to a brand’s web properties. Clearly, Facebook is trying out position Google and it’s own Google+ network by leveraging its massive, captive audience of more than 750 million users against Google’s strength in search. Its success in doing so will depend on how enthusiastically businesses rush to embrace the new look and feel.
For more in-depth breakdown of check out Annie Colbert’s mega-list of articles and blog posts covering the news.
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