Earlier this week I was initially thrown by the new News Feed elements Facebook rolled out. I was mostly annoyed about the new lists because I liked the way I did my own lists. But I spent an hour or two getting to know the new interface on Wednesday night. That, along with the explanations from f8’s keynote on Thursday, made everything fit together for me. And my friends, I AM EXCITED.
Why I’m Excited About Facebook Timeline, Apps, and Open Graph
In 1995 I was making websites by coding HTML in Notepad. And I was geeked about how things were emerging and new. I had a job that hadn’t even been INVENTED when I was growing up. AMAZING.
Fast forward 16 years. I’ve enjoyed blogging. I’ve enjoyed Twitter. I’ve enjoyed Tumblr and Facebook and LinkedIn. Those were all natural progressions of the path we were on. What Facebook outlined at the 2011 F8 Conference is the first time I’ve seen a new idea that no one was expecting. It’s the first time I’ve been EXCITED about potential in a long while. What we’ve been doing up to this point has been a shadow of our social potential. What Facebook is doing is *really* social.
I recognize there are potential problems. People will definitely have to re-think how they share their information and take more ownership of their privacy. They’ll have to pay closer attention to who they’re sharing specific content with. I’m ready to do that (and have been doing it, but I realize I’m not a “regular” user). I think the bigger issue is that people don’t own their page on Facebook and it shouldn’t be the only place you’re keeping these important life moments. I’m afraid less savvy users — like our parents, for example — won’t understand that. They’ll assume that if they put it on Facebook, it will be there indefinitely for their use. And that may be true, but I’ve been in the space long enough that I know we’re breaking new ground, but you don’t know what’s going to be here (or gone) in five years.
But still . . . I’m excited about the potential.
The issues I point out for less savvy users haven’t really changed. Those issues have been the same issues since Facebook started — you don’t own your content and you shouldn’t use it as your only means of recording photos/video/anything special. The interface has changed and people may be thrown initially, but I think they will adapt fairly quickly.
As for clients, if FB chooses to install this update to pages as well (which they must), I think this allows a much broader picture of the company and can be much more useful with marketing options. Consider that you can create an entire campaign to share with your fans right on the Wall. You’d be able to have video, testimonials, and a soundtrack grouped together for a much more interactive update.
I’ve seen many tweets and Facebook status updates complaining that it’s too much. The new elements are too hard to navigate. I’m not negating the fact that there will be a learning curve, but I don’t think a learning curve is reason enough to hold the process back. We’re finally moving forward and I can’t help but be really excited about it.
Find Out About the New Facebook Timeline, Apps, and OpenGraph
Knowledge is power. You’ll probably feel more comfortable with the changes if you understand what they are and how they fit together. At least I felt better after hearing an explanation and reading more about it — and I hope you will too. To that end, here are some links to help you see what’s coming and why.
Replay of the f8 Keynote. If you didn’t watch the unveiling in real time (or you just want to see it again), you can watch it via the recorded Livestream video on the f8 Facebook page. I’m not a big Andy Samberg fan, but I admit he made me laugh with his intro bit. But what’s interesting about the keynote is how Mark Zuckerberg explains how the new rollouts fit together and will change the way we market, buy, and share products. We’ve been saying “social media” for a few years, but we’re really just now seeing what social can be. Until now, we’ve been treading water. We’re finally moving forward with something innovative.
F8’s Big Facebook Changes: Timeline, Ticker, News Feed, Apps. Can’t quite bring yourself to sit through a few hours of the keynote? OK. This article highlights the main points. It, along with the other links I’m providing, should give you enough to see what the rest of us are geeked out about.
Video of How Timeline Works. Timeline is going to keep track of your updates and content sharing, but instead of just showing the last few days, it will show everything. You can go back to the first day you joined Facebook. Then you can add more information all the way back to when you were born. This is a new way to share the important milestones of your life. I think I heard someone at F8 call it the year-end report of your life. Or, for those of you who love the crafty, it’s like an online scrapbook. YOU get to choose what the focus is. Facebook has an algorithm that will try to choose the important information, but you ultimately have control and can decide what’s featured and what’s not.
Facebook’s Overview of Timeline. Here you can see each element of the new Timeline and see an explanation of how it will work.
How to Enable the Facebook Timeline Right This Second. If you have the developer app installed on your account, you can see Timeline in action right away when you follow the instructions in this Tech Crunch article. If you don’t have the app, click over anyway and you can download it and get started. Quick note: Your App Display name can be anything and your App Namespace can also be anything, but it has a character limitation (I think it’s 13-15 chars max, but I’m not completely sure). Just pointing that out because I originally assigned a namespace that was too long and it took me a minute to figure out why it didn’t work immediately.
How do the New Facebook Changes Affect Privacy?
You are always in charge of your privacy — online and offline. Although it’s not popular to say, it is never the tool’s responsibility to protect you, it’s your responsibility to protect you. Would it be easier if the tool, in this case Facebook, started out with your privacy set to the highest level instead of the most open level? Perhaps. But consider two things:
- Facebook’s mission isn’t to provide a personal space for you. They want to create a community that is open and whose members constantly share their lives and milestones with others. It makes sense that they would encourage that by setting default privacy to be more open rather than closed.
- No matter what the default settings for privacy are, you will most likely have to visit your dashboard and tweak those settings for your own needs. Whether Facebook sets those privacy setting high or low, you still have to go in.
The new apps and sharing that are coming to Facebook allow you to have full control over what you share. If you don’t want to share with people, then don’t install the application. If you don’t want everyone to see your Timeline or profile, then change your settings to Friends Only. If you want to share your updates with select people, you can customize your updates by clicking the Public button below your status update text box and choosing who can and can’t see your update. Your privacy lies with you as much as it ever did. These new changes are not taking it away. There may or may not be instances where you will need to think twice about what you share and with whom, but you should be doing that anyway.
When you do a tour of the new Timeline, you’ll see this message about your new “View Activity” button on your profile: “View all your activity. Your activity log lists all your posts and activity, from today back to the beginning. Go here to change the privacy for individual stories, delete posts and more. This is your private resource — no one else can see your activity log.”
Let me ask you this: Do you use the free wi-fi at your local coffee shop or library or anywhere? Are you concerned that whoever is supplying the wi-fi isn’t covering your privacy? Why not? I know that when I’m on public wi-fi, someone could easily hi-jack my passwords and make purchases on sites that I’ve logged into, so I change my working habits or where I browse when I’m not using my own secure wi-fi at home. That’s my responsibility.
The bright side to us moving ahead and taking control of our own privacy is that we have the opportunity to teach our kids how to be even more vigilant than we are about weighing what’s public and what’s not.
How Do the New Facebook Changes Affect Facebook Marketing?
The recent changes haven’t really focused on fan pages, but pages are affected. A few things you may have noticed about pages:
- Facebook is no longer sharing Likes from within Facebook in the News Feed. What that means is that, if I Like a picture or status update or link on your fan page, my friends don’t see that any more. However, if Like a blog post or article on an external site (e.g., BloggingBasics101.com), then that Like *does* show up in my stream.
- Your fan page has a new link in the left nav called Friends’ Activity. If you click on that, you’ll see the people who you’re connected with (i.e., your FB friends) and how they are specifically interacting with your page.
- The FB News Feed is no longer making fan pages a priority in the feed. They are favoring personal relationships over business relationships. That means your status updates aren’t showing up as much in the News Feed.
Will Timeline, Ticker, GraphRank Break Facebook Marketing? If you’re concerned about the changes I mentioned above, this article will help explain what your options are.
What Should Facebook Page Administrators Do After f8? I stated privately in a few Facebook groups I’m part of that Timeline and apps associated with it will be rolled out to the masses first. Then, when people are comfortable with the layout, it will be rolled out to pages as well. The impact of Timeline on pages will be big. Businesses will be able to curate how their customers see them; highlight specific campaigns and interactions; and create new campaigns that include interactive apps, soundtracks, testimonials, images, and video. It will change the social media marketing landscape completely. This article backs me up.
What Do YOU Think About the Facebook Changes?
And before you answer that, please stop and think about it. Read through the information I’ve linked to. Consider where we’ve been and where we’re going. Look at the bigger picture. This isn’t just about a new interface, it’s about how we’re going to interact with each other without boundaries. It’s about how business will grow over the net ten years. If you get bogged down in the fact that your interface changed, you’re going to miss the bigger picture.
Let me tell you this: I am the last person who thought I’d be swayed by Mark Zuckerberg. I like Facebook a lot and I love social media, but I’ve had a healthy concern about how Facebook operates. I still do. I think about my privacy, I think about what I’m sharing and how, I think about the fact that I do not own my content at Facebook. And I think about the fact that I don’t like a lot of change in general, because I want to know how pieces fit together rather than jumping in blindly. I feel like Facebook did a fairly good job explaining how the pieces fit together. I’m excited about where we’re headed and that we’re no longer on the same, slow path — we’re about to really get social.