Facebook is about to change and this time it’s not about a shake-up of your sidebar or a reshuffling of how things show up on your wall. This time, the change is big. It’s a whole new way to connect with the world and share the things that are important to you.
It’s about the timeline, the ticker and a whole new series of open graph apps. I spent the morning listening to Mark Zuckerberg present the new Facebook on a LiveStream from the f8 conference and here’s what I came away with.
Timeline is one of two big, structural changes to Facebook. It’s meant to tell the story of your life by presenting everything you’ve done (and mentioned on Facebook) in chronological order. It really is a timeline – just like the ones they made you use in history class when you were in school.
The whole thing starts with your current activity, then it moves backward through time, progressively compressing your activity more and more with each step back. So 2005′s section will show more boxes of information than 1995. You can zip straight to any of these years using sidebar navigation or by scrolling. No more paging backwards, it’s all on the front page (wacky, huh?)
As you travel down the timeline, you’ll see dots that represent dated events. Gray dots can be opened by hovering over them. These are events Facebook deemed less important. Want to add a photo from your high school prom? Find the date on the timeline, then fill in the information in the Status box.
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Now you have the ability to go back and fill in the big moments of your life even if you didn’t have Facebook at the time. The end result is a pretty cool recap of who you are for all the world (or whomever you choose) to see.
What you won’t see, are all those annoying game updates, and activity messages that now clutter your wall. Those are moving to the Ticker.
TICKER & APPS
The Ticker is a continuous feed of information that hangs out on the right side of the main Facebook page. This is where you’ll see all the minutia from your friend’s feeds. And this is where apps come in.
Facebook’s new class of apps are the mechanism that is going to change how people use the site and it’s the part that is of most interest to marketers. Facebook has always had communication and game apps, now they’re adding media and lifestyle. Music is the biggest and here’s how it works.
When you’re on Facebook, you see in your Ticker, that your friend is listening to Katy Perry’s new song. It’s in realtime because he’s listening using the Spotify app. You click that Ticker notation and you can listen to the same song at the same time. Your friend then gets a notice that you’re listening, too, so you can discuss it in a chat window as you both listen.
This also works with TV shows on Hulu and news articles through a variety of apps including YahooNews. But it doesn’t only work with realtime activities. It also works with books, recipes, even hiking trails because Facebook has added verbs to the dropdown. Instead of “liking” a book, you can be “reading” a book, or “watching” a DVD or “cooking” a meal.
All of this results in what Zuckerberg calls “Realtime Serendipity.” Every activity becomes a recommendation and that’s why this is amazing for marketers. We know that people are more likely to try something if their friends are trying it. Reed Hastings of Netflix talked about how he watched a show a friend was watching because he knew he’d see that friend later and they’d talk about it.
The other thing the Ticker does is create a “Frictionless Experience.” When you choose an app, you give that app permission to post your activity to the Ticker. That means it will show up on the side, not mixed in with important updates. It also means the end of those annoying “Share this on Facebook” boxes that pop when ever you accomplish something in a game. That announcement brought a round of applause from the audience.
The New Face of Facebook
I’m really excited about the new face of Facebook. It’s more information but presented in a neater, more elegant way. It takes the info I’ve been sharing on a variety of sites (GoodReads, GetGlue, Netflix) and puts it all in one place.
Now, people can talk about your products in a more meaningful way. It’s not about liking Del Taco’s fan page, it’s about telling my friends that I’m having their new carnitas taco for lunch. From a marketing standpoint, that’s a much more powerful message.
The new Facebook is all about discovery and part of that is jumping in and discovering all the new parts for yourself. There’s simply too much to cover in a single post. Open yourself up to it, even if, like me, you weren’t a big fan before. I believe this new structure will open up a whole world of possibilities for the user and the marketer.