Facebook is undergoing a series of updates that may affect how you interact with social media. In Part 1 of our series, Firm Media addressed the new Facebook features that are poised to take on Google+, the search giant’s social network.
However, competition with Google+ is not all that is motivating Facebook’s recent moves. As you will read, some of these updates attempt to resolve long-standing problems with Facebook. These changes may also help cement the world’s largest social network as the hub of interaction on the web.
Significant Facebook Changes
In addition to the features we’ve already covered in Part 1—including Friend Lists, the Subscribe Button, and Chat & Video—here are other Facebook updates about which you should know.
Since Newsfeed was launched, users logging into Facebook had been greeted by their friends’ most recent activities. The drawback? Just because those posts were the most recent ones didn’t mean you would care much about them (“John Smith likes eating peach cobbler”? Good for you, “John”, but we have more important things to read about.)
The revamped Newsfeed presents you with “Top Stories.” Facebook states that posts in “Top Stories” appear based on several factors other than the time they were posted, including:
- How often you interact with the friend who is posting.
- Whether the post has many comments or “likes.”
- Intriguingly, what type of story it is. This could mean that content such as Friend 1’s engagement would rank higher than Friend 2’s photo of breakfast.
Because the Newsfeed values posts that are important more highly than posts that are most current, Facebook decided to keep users up-to-date with friend activity by adding a new profile pane: the Ticker.
In the Ticker, you are notified each time a friend “likes” an update, subscribes to a page, or comments on a post. This solves two problems users had with the old Facebook:
- It removes less important material from the main Newsfeed.
- By seeing activity as it happens, you can more easily interact with friends online in real-time.
The Ticker gives you a way to connect with friends at that moment, such as typing a quick message or video chatting. Also, Facebook has announced plans to integrate with a variety of online media, from streaming music to movies, so that friends can share in the Ticker what they are listening to or watching. Some services may even allow you to watch or listen together with the friend by clicking on activity in the Ticker.
Facebook is a repository of all of a person’s relationships and activities. The Timeline aims to highlight this information in a more meaningful way than the current user profile page.
Timeline provides a collection of photos, posts, and applications that share your story with others. Think of it as a customized scrapbook filled with multimedia that builds on your profile and information from your friends. Timeline is in beta now and will be opt-in when it launches.
Impact on Business
We mentioned in our first post that changes to Facebook have left some users unhappy. Reasons include:
- The complexity of new features.
- Problems with the new page layout.
- The need for greater privacy control.
- Less exposure for brands and businesses.
This last point is one of the most concerning to companies and their social media teams. The changes in Facebook’s design and Newsfeed provide less room for page activity updates and advertisements, all of which help businesses reach new customers.
There are reasons for companies to hold out hope, though. For one, the sheer size of Facebook’s audience means that they should remain invested in the social network. For another, companies can expect these changes will eventually provide them with new opportunities to reach and engage with customers. After all, this is the website that gave businesses greater exposure through social “liking” and free Facebook Pages. The Ticker, the new design, and the updated Timeline page may all have benefits to companies as well.
Your best bet: Stay connected with ongoing trends and establish a plan that will help your business make the most of what is coming next.