Facebook sure has arrived when it comes to the traditional media set as it used 60 Minutes (in more ways than one) to roll out the new Profile Page design. I say used 60 Minutes because I personally came away from the watching the interview with nothing new. In other words, it looks like Mark Zuckerberg has mastered the ‘no event’ interview and he is getting a bigger stage for an audience he usually doesn’t get to address.
How he came across depends on who you are and how you see things, of course. If you are Jay Yarrow of the Business Insider you just put a headline that ‘he rocked’ and give no reason why ‘he rocked’ and just show the video. While Andrew Wallenstein of econsultancy took the other side of the ledger and explained why (Which is the better way to go. Don’t just say something and not explain it no matter what your point of view is.).
For me it was pretty standard fare. Mark Zuckerberg is certainly getting more comfortable doing these things but, as Wallenstein points out, he is always on his home turf (the office) and no one asks him the hard questions. One I would love for him to give an actual answer to (aside from the pat “Well, we made a lot of mistakes…….) is about those IM’s from college that called Zuckerberg’s fellow classmates “dumb f*^ks” for giving up their personal data and trusting him. Therein lies the true motive of all of this in my opinion.
As for the Profile changes? Well, they are outlined in the Facebook blog and there is a video for you to be given a ‘tour’ that just has music as the backdrop and no explanations. Facebook could stand to take a lesson from Google on these because this video is not very helpful at all.
The biggest change in the profiles seems to be the layout. Oh and the inability to easily go back to the old profile once you’re into the new one (oh well, silly me for thinking I could experiment with Facebook). Zuckerberg made it a point in his 60 minutes interview (in which he got 2 full segments while Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, got one in the leadoff position) to stress that photos are a key component for people so they are now prominently displayed in the Profile section for users. It doesn’t work for me personally but that’s fine. I have never claimed to be the ‘classic’ Facebook user and never will be.
As always it’s interesting to read the comments from the Facebook blog post as the haters come out hard and strong regarding all things Facebook. I did find one comment pretty insightful though and it is something I have thought applies to the Internet industry for quite some time and not just Facebook. It comes from Richard Chisnall and he said
someone who comes up with a market-driven model (read: not driven by people in your business who need constantly to prove why they’re employed) that responds to what users actually want, rather than what *you* think they want, will win. join the rest of us in the user-driven 21st century…and someone please offer an alternative to facebook, i’m getting sick to death of these changes-for-the-sake-of-changes
While offering an alternative to Facebook is unlikely at the moment, I do echo his sentiment that the idea of making changes which are more superficial than game changing overall is getting a bit old. Of course, most would recommend that Richard do it better himself but Zuckerberg and company have created a pretty large barrier to entry just because on the basis of scale so seeing real competition is getting less likely each passing day.
Oh and the changes themselves? It looks like they have just shuffled the deck and moved things around a bit. The ability to add projects you are working on at your job is interesting and has some asking if this makes Facebook a LinkedIn competitor now. I don’t think so but that’s just me.
One thing that is not on the front page of the Profile anymore is ones religious views. Could that be that Zuckerberg’s own views (he’s an atheist according to his profile at one point in time) are influencing just how prominently displayed this will be? In fact, this piece of someone’s person, which is very much a defining aspect of people which they will tell folks about and want to display, is put under the Philosophy section of Profile data. Interesting placement and completely wrong but I have to remember that Facebook knows all, right?
So overall, this is another press event for the most part that heralds some changes that are really there to make it look like Facebook is being proactive rather than much else.
Are the profile changes an improvement to you?