New Facebook Overview, Explanation, & What it Means to Brands

While most people were at lunch last Thursday, we were glued to our computer screens watching f8 Live. We furiously scribbled notes while Mark Zuckerberg announced major changes to personal Profiles, the addition of new Apps and a new interface, and the expansion of the Open Graph. When “Zuck” as we lovingly call him, wrapped up the presentation and left the stage, everyone at the office spent the rest of the day discussing the implications of the changes to brand Pages.

As you read this, there are likely people at Facebook coding furiously to prepare the network for the next round of changes. The platform has now grown to 800 million members, and Facebook is preparing for an IPO. This will be the first of many changes, and as such, this will be the first of many blogs guiding you through.

New Facebook Vocabulary
Ticker
A real-time snapshot of what your friends are doing, whether it’s commenting on a photo, liking a status update, or listening to a song on Spotify. The ticker is constantly updating itself and any “lightweight” updates that Facebook does not believe have a place in the Recent Stories section of the profile, will be found in the Ticker. Updates made through the Open Graph will appear in the ticker. It is not yet clear how Facebook is weighing other types of content to decide what is worthy of appearing as a Story rather than appearing momentarily in the Ticker.

Timeline
The new profile, currently in beta testing mode for those who have opted-in to test it. It is a moving mosaic of the photos, videos, places and status updates that make up not just your Facebook profile, but in a way, your personality. Facebook wants to be a living scrapbook of your life, a collection of the places that you’ve been, the friends that you’ve made, and the pictures that you’ve posted – from birth to present. You can go back through the Timeline and add photos and information about your life BF (Before Facebook) so don’t worry if you were born prior to 2004, the year that Facebook was started.

Once installed, the current default settings for the Timeline are “Public” or “Private”. Some initial criticism has been voiced about how visible the Timeline makes all of your information, and many beta testers have expressed a desire to control who can see the timeline, in the same way that you can control who can see your status updates.

Open Graph
This is where developers build Apps that integrate into Facebook. The Open Graph allows users to share their activity without physically pressing a button, or pausing their activity to update a status. This means that a new Facebook permissions screen will appear when you first activate an app, making you aware of how they will share through your profile. Once the initial decision to opt-in has been made, Apps will no longer have to ask for permission to post content to your Facebook.

New Facebook and Privacy
Facebook is taking a pretty bold step here in assuming that people are open to sharing every aspect of their online lives with the world. While this may be a “generational thing” many in the tech community are starting to raise their eyebrows and clear their throats. The new, more flexible rules around collecting information through Apps is great news for marketers …but the benefits likely do not extend to the average user. By introducing the new sharing feature baked in to media Apps like Spotify and Hulu, Facebook has done an excellent job of introducing their new brand of medicine to users with the proverbial “spoon full of sugar.” Facebook is clearly moving full steam ahead with this new lax take on personal privacy and information, and it likely take some sort of intervention by the Federal Government to stop it.

It is vital to point out here that it’s not just Facebook – Google does it too.

New Facebook and Brands
Although the bulk of the changes to brand Pages have yet to come, there are a handful of significant changes that will impact the way that Pages need to be managed. Users no longer have to “Like” a Page to comment on the Page’s activity. This means that it is no longer necessary to be a fan of a Page in order to Like a photo in a photo contest, or write on the Wall. Monitoring a Page will become increasingly important, as will creating compelling content and building community to keep the Page lively.

When the new profile Ticker initially launched, Brand Pages saw an immediate drop in engagement that at some points appeared to be as high as 70% across the network. Engagement has begun to rebound but is still down about 20% network wide. While the aesthetic and functional changes that were implemented across the board for all Personal Profiles have yet to hit the brand Pages, they are coming. Without a set date from Facebook it is difficult to build out a timeline, but we are constantly monitoring the network for any hint of testing that could indicate long term changes.

Key Takeaways:
Content and Community

Until the average user adapts to the new interface and takes advantage of the available filtering tools, such as Lists, the network is going to appear very noisy. It will be harder for people to see your content. When it’s harder for people to see you, it is more important than ever that you give them a reason to seek you out. Community and Content, the basis of every strategy that we put together, are now more important than ever.

Mixed Media for Maximum Benefits

In the past filling your page with multiple different types of media was important. Now, it’s crucial. Facebook has declared “Media” as one of the four types of Apps that can be created with the Open Graph – the other three being Games, Communication, and Lifestyle. They are partnering with multiple media companies like Spotify, Hulu, and Color, in order to make the network the center of the media world. Photos are going to show up differently than status updates, and users are going to be trained to respond differently to a photo than they would to words.

Brand Actions and Behaviors

Now that users can engage with content on a page without first Liking the page, the content will need to be more focused on driving action. The platform is now optimized for sharing and storytelling, not broadcasting. The New Facebook is about giving people something that they’re truly interested in to engage with. It’s about providing people with something to read, something to interact with, and something to belong to.

All About Advertising

You don’t create a website and expect people to find it serendipitously – you advertise it. And now Facebook wants you to apply that same mode of thinking to your Page. If you want to be seen, they want you to advertise on their platform. In fact, it appears from our analysis that Facebook is now including Facebook Ads in their EdgeRank formula, which is used to decide how often your content shows up on the network. That means that by purchasing Facebook Ads, your content will have a better chance of appearing in the Recent Stories stream, increasing brand awareness and visibility.

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Keep in mind, it’s going to take some testing to fully understand the impact to Brands and how to adapt to the New Facebook. We are currently testing out some new strategies to take advantage of the new interface – and we may even share some secret sauce with you in future blogs!

Now I’m going to go listen to Hanson on Spotify so that all of my Facebook friends know how awesome I am.

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When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman enjoys guessing what music Facebook employees will come out to during f8. During her time studying at The University of Florida, Mandi became convinced in the power of learning through play. She has since committed herself to playing (and learning) all day, every day.

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