There are two things one can be certain of in this world:
1.) We will all eventually die
2.) Facebook will change every 3 months
From the chatter in my Twitter and Facebook feed, the latter seems to be a more upsetting reality.
While we normally pull out a company making great use of social media, we couldn’t ignore this news that has shaken the very core of interwebers everywhere.
Below, our non-expert first thoughts on Facebook’s latest overhaul:
If you caught the (painfully awkward) F8 presentation from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, you were introduced to the latest functionality change, Timeline. The concept behind it: Your current profile is like "the first five minutes" of a conversation with someone you just met. Timeline goes deeper. Like a virtual scrapbook, users can arrange every piece of content they've ever posted their entire Facebooking life in one long chronological stream.
-Content doesn't get "lost" like it can now
-No more clicking "older" to search for something more than 2 days old
-Easier and more visual navigation
Add in the new feature that separates content you want to see and the "lightweight" content you may or may not care about, and it seems a better user experience overall.
While the Timeline is a cute idea, the increased depth in social sharing is what is really at the core of Facebook's ability to change the way we communicate.
The merging of the growing music-sharing Spotify and movie heavyweight Netflix into Facebook will set in motion an entire ecosystem of social entertainment consumption. With the new developments, users can not only share recommendations, but actually listen or watch with another user. Facebook is no longer focusing on growth, (I think they've tapped most breathing mammals anyway) but on engagement and interaction. In a vast and often anonymous internet, your experience on their platform is personal and tied to emotion.
Yes, the format is visually more appealing. Yes, the idea of seeing all the major moments of my virtual life in large, organized, non-fingerprint-able photos has me intrigued. Yes, the social consumption and ability to share experiences in live time with anyone anywhere *cough* Twitter *cough* is an exciting step towards social media as whole.
Yet, I'm still left with some reservations.
- It's not just about "liking"
Zuckerberg talks about the expansion beyond just the "Like" button.
"You don't have to 'like' a book, you can just 'read' a book...you've probably read 10 times more books than you've liked."
While true, who cares? Who cares that I read a book? Ate dinner? Flossed my teeth? (Which I always always do of course...). The point of Facebook, or any social media channel for that matter, is not to share every single activity of your day, it's to share opinions, ideas, content worth sharing. "Mark cooked"--isn't this the type of posts we're trying to get way from? In an online world of over-saturation, why would we want to keep adding? The focus needs to be on quality, not quantity.
- Timeline: Helping or hurting IRL relationships?
The beauty of Facebook is that it allows for development and maintenance of relationships that otherwise may not have been possible. Think of the classmates that have become friends because you has this easy, comfortable way to connect with them outside of class; The extended family that lives across the country you only see at weddings and funerals; the select few from high school who you actually would want to see at a reunion.
Facebook is an icebreaker. It's a supplement to a real-life relationship that helps keep them together when geography gets in the way. Shouldn't we be taking the deeper, next five minutes and beyond to personal interaction? Is it really preferable to have every intimate detail about yourself posted on the internet for easy sharing?
I couldn't help but feel like Facebook's goal is not to supplement human relationships, but replace them. I know, with every change we ask "Is this 'too much?" We question whether our personal transparency on the world wide web is doing more harm than good. And it's a question I don't think we can answer just yet. But the concern is a real one.
- The death of the Dot Com?
A friend tweeted during the F8 conference Thursday "Bye bye .com"; He was referring to the Netflix/Spotify additions. Is it the end of traditional websites? While much of the web still exists happily without Facebook, is it just a matter of time before all interactions with a business are done through this social network? As much as I enjoy the convenience of "logging in with Facebook", the prospect of Facebook having that much ownership over my life is a bit unsettling.
Every time Facebook comes out with a new format/ new version/ update it goes through a lifecycle. It starts with a mass groan of “the new layout sucks” “I want old Facebook back” then winding up around “I love the new format” and “wait, something changed?” So maybe this time Facebook has considered the way we will be communicating and really designed a product that will carry us into the future. I enjoy the idea of a timeline and making the updates we have more relevant, while still allowing us to venture beyond our immediate circles and reconnect with people.
Although I think that the changes might be good, maybe they should have waited and done a phased approach rather than such a large announcement. If they just focused on one aspect of the profile changing, and simply changed other features, it probably would be easier for the public to handle. Also, I don't think Mark Zuckerberg showing off the feature that he listened to a song is very believable to the public. His robot ears can't comprehend music anyway.
We can't really say for sure until we dive in. What do you think, Chicago? From what you've seen, what rating do you think the new Facebook design should receive?
Jen Healy is a Global Social Media Specialist for a really big international (go figure) company on the Northside of Chicago. Her claim to social media fame involves a stint as the social media intern for the RedEye, America's Test Kitchen, the title 2011 Downtown Dash Champion and “Top 10 World's Coolest Interns.” (Yes, it's real, and it's spectacular.)
Katie Holland is a Social Media Supervisor for a really big international (different from Jen's) company out in the west suburbs of Chicago. Her claim to social media fame involves a mention in the bestseller Groundswell for a Twitter interaction in 2010, and serving as co-chair of the Social Customer Care subcommittee for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. She is also featured in Rebecca Black's video for Friday. (Okay, not really)
Filed under: Social Media