The Changing Face of Facebook: We Are Now All Autobiographers

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduces Timeline for Facebook in San Francisco

If there is one thing marketers should know by now, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg never sits still. He constantly thinks about how to improve the network and its Open Graph.  Leading up to the F8 Conference in September, Facebook began to make a number of changes across the network and the changes keep coming.

In short, Facebook is attempting to turn everyone into digital autobiographers by allowing users to share major events and life experiences with friends and family within the network.  Facebook is morphing into a kind of digital scrapbook that captures individual’s activity in real-time, shares all actions with “friends” and makes it possible for content to spread more rapidly.

The following is a summary of recent changes all brand teams should be aware of:

  • Changes to the News Feed and introduction of the Ticker, which appears on the right sidebar.  The News Feed can no longer be sorted by “Top Posts” or “Recent Posts”.  Instead, “Top Posts” are marked with a blue triangle at the top left corner.  Individuals will need to rely on Lists to filter updates from friends and brands.
  • “Timeline” is the most significant change coming to Facebook.  Timeline is expected to roll out sometime in October, but can be activated manually. (This article from Mashable explains how.) The new design restructures user profiles to reflect a person’s story in a single page.  Users will have the option to go back and fill in important moments of their life before Facebook existed all the way back to birth.
  • Facebook “Insights” for Pages will include new metrics.  Marketers will now know how many “Friends of Fans” were reached, the number of “People Talking about This”, or more precisely the Page, and what the “Total Reach” was within a certain period.  In addition, “The People Talking About This” statistic is visible on all Pages.
  • The “Open Graph” gets verbs.  The “Like” button is getting an upgrade by adding context with verbs.  Instead of just “like”-ing everything, developers and marketers can specify the kind of action with the social object. For example, instead of just “like”-ing a blog post, marketers and publishers can specify the user “read” an “article”.  The Open Graph can be integrated with websites, mobile applications (new) and Facebook applications.  Visit Facebook’s developer section for programming details.
  • New Facebook app development options.  Facebook app enhancements coincide with changes in the Open Graph, content partnerships, the Ticker and Timeline.  Applications can now be added to a user’s Timeline to further express personal interests and passions within the network.  In addition, applications can serve as a form of content discovery because actions within the app are visible to friends in the Ticker.  The Washington Post Social Reader and Hulu apps are two examples that leverage the new options.
  • New Posting, Lists and Subscription Options mimic Google+. As result of some modifications with Facebook Lists, users can organize all connections into lists. User can now specify who can view status updates by selecting a list or making it public. Users can make their profile more open by activating a new “Subscriber” feature avoiding the need to “friend” someone.  “Subscribers” will only see public updates.  All of these changes mimic features in Google+.
  • Discussions and Review Facebook Page Apps will no longer be available as of October 31st. It’s unclear if the removal of these apps is temporary or permanent.  Part of Facebook’s goal is to help brands focus on interactions on the wall, where the majority of engagement generally occurs.  Most Facebook administrators should be relieved. 


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