Last week Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced a pretty radical overhaul of some of Facebook’s features, at the social networking site’s annual F8 conference in San Francisco
As predicted, the changes – some of which have already been rolled out - are being met with a mixed reaction from its users – some delighted, others upset at big changes to the appearance of timelines and addition of new features.
Already some changes to the look of the newsfeed have been rolled out. The most immediately obvious change has been the addition of the ticker timeline on the right hand side of a user’s newsfeed, which now feeds constantly updated information on friend’s activities on the site in real time. “Facebook is trying to make the newsfeed less noisy,” explains Jesse Noyes, corporate reporter at Eloqua. “Smaller activities, like a friend commenting on another friend’s status update, will be condensed in the ticker, while bigger events, such as posting a photo, will get better real estate,” she adds.
“This is a potential plus for brands that can cut through the noise by posting high quality content. People who “like” a brand might see published content in the less noisy space, but only if the brand is strategic about what they push out. Plain old status updates won’t be enough. Brands who aren’t judicious and smart will likely end up relegated to the ticker, where it will be harder to be seen,” Noyes warns.
“For those with the ability to harness this data and marry it with creative and interactive campaigns, targeting and engaging users via this somewhere untamed medium has just become a little bit easier. While there are undoubtedly a number of privacy debates on the horizon, the next year will prove interesting as we see the real marketing potential this development offers [as it] takes shape.”
Other updates to Facebook’s social graph too look set to offer brands a huge amount of scope to engage more deeply with consumers. In due course, users will be able to go far beyond “liking” a brand or its content. So for example we’ll begin to see that “Tom is drinking at Starbucks” or “Lisa is shopping at ASOS”.
“Soon developers will be able to turn any verb into a button,” says Simon Quance, head of Sixth Sense social media. “Some have predicted potentially unwelcome over-sharing to follow, with yet more trivial information showing up in newsfeeds.
However, marketers may be able to manage this function carefully and foster an increased sense of proximity to a brand or amplify its values using the right term. That said, long term consistency in the use of any term adopted will be key, so changes should be considered carefully.”
One of the biggest opportunities for brands on Facebook in the immediate future could lie in the development of integrated apps. According to Noyes, Spotify and Nike are already creating apps to fit into users’ timelines and tickers – making it easier for users to share services that their peers are using. “That’s a potential boon for any brands, especially app savvy brands [that are] prepared to create high quality apps, understand how Facebook fans are using your service and producing content that entertains,” she says.
With all of these rich new features – and we’ve not even touched on the fact that users will soon be able download music, TV and news content while logged into Facebook (thanks to deals with Spotify, the Guardian and more) – it is obvious that Facebook wants to become a one-stop internet shop.
All the more reason then for brands to keep on top of its rapid changes.
adapted from article by Claire Weekes, senior reporter, UTalkMarketing, 28th September 2011