An Explanation of Recent Facebook Enhancements

Whether you use Facebook for personal reasons or as a business tool, you have probably noticed a lot of changes on the site since last Thursday, when founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled them. (NOTES and WARNING: This is 1 hour and 40 minutes long. Fast forward to minute 7.5 if you want to avoid the stand up comedian pretending to be Zuckerberg).

There has been an uproar from some users, but there always is. Change is hard for some, but it is inevitable, especially if Facebook wants to remain in the top spot as a social networking destination.

User complaints abound.

“Too cluttered and overwhelming”
“Stop trying to keep up with/be like Twitter and Google+”
“Don’t try to tell me what I like”
“I liked it the way it was, stop changing.”

Facebook tells us that the changes to personal pages are so you don’t miss recent news that is important to you and that you may have missed since you last logged in as well as flexibility to hide news you don’t want to see using filters.

Upates include:
Real Time News Ticker (think Twitter) at the top right of the page
Bigger photos on your wall
Friend filters
Subscribe Button
(Mashable’s article gives all of the details and video)

THE IMPACT ON YOUR BRAND
So, What does that mean for your brand on Facebook?

SUBSCRIBE is like FOLLOWING on Twitter: Individuals can now follow other individuals (Facebook says “subscribe”) so any public content on a personal Facebook  can be in your news feed. This means that your CEO or other thought leaders within your company can share their ideas (blog posts, links to articles) with their subscribers. Getting subscribers is like getting followers on Twitter- the more of your friends that follow someone, the more of their friends might. Building a following on Facebook can reach a more mainstream audience in a more consumer/personal forum.

FILTERS make it easier for users to qualify the content they receive, making it easier to unsubscribe (while still being a friend), moving their content to more visible or hiding it all together. This means that organizations must be ever more conscious what they are posting to their subscribers so they don’t lose them. Use a litmus of 1) is it helpful? 2) is it informative? or is it 3) sales?  If you or your thought leaders provide subscribers with helpful industry information, you will gain more.  If you sell to them, you will lose your audience.

More updates are coming in a few weeks including:

  • A completely redesigned Profile page
  • A Timeline (think: this is your life flashing before your eyes)
  • Integration with Music and other Media (rumors about about a partnership with Netflix, for instance) using Open Graph

Last words
While many of the new changes are making your experience more custom and allow users to hide what they don’t want to see,  we know that these updates are motivated by the compelling  functionality that Twitter and Google+ provide.  While they currently have smaller audiences, they had the luxury of learning from Facebook before they launched their networks.  Google has launched a fully open Google+, which provides flexibility and simplicity and, having learned what Facebook did not offer, at least initially, it offers much, much more. Read this for the details. Therefore, many things have been bolted on to the Facebook experience that weren’t even a glimmer in Mr. Zuckerberg’s eye when he created the original Harvard-centric tool.

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