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f8 Conference: Takeaways on New Facebook Changes

During yesterday’s f8 conference in San Francisco, Facebook’s official conference that brings together the world’s leading social network and developers, Facebook announced plans for an entirely new user experience on its platform.

Most of these features are not yet public, but hold both positive and negative implications for users and marketers. There are still a lot of questions that have not been answered yet, but here are some of the major themes and takeaways from these new announcements:

History Will Be Reborn – “Facebook Timeline” will soon become a new buzzword if it hasn’t already. The concept behind this new look and feel is to make your profile a more complete story than what it is today. As it stands, items that come up in your news feed appear for a brief period of time and then are lost, unless you scroll to the bottom and keep hitting the “more posts” button. This new change will take your important events and bring them back to the surface so that you can re-experience what happened and in some case discover new aspects of the event that you may have not known about.

This is going to make storytelling more important for brands. If brand pages do go this way, I imagine the ability for a brand to tell its history and emphasize tradition within their own pages. It will no longer be about the immediate status update but rather an overall narrative that the page will tell. Brands will have to be much more strategic with what story they want to share with the consumer.

Use Friends for Discovery – The second major change that comes from this timeline initiative will be a new way to discover products, places, music, movies, etc. The ticker, which has already appeared in the upper right of a user’s profile, will still show each and every action a friend takes. But if multiple friends are engaging with a certain product at the same time, that becomes a highlighted story and lets the user discover it based on a trend of usage amongst their friends.

Marketers will have to be extremely strategic here. Not only will your overall story have to be shown on the page, but each experience will have to be engaging enough to make users want to share it with their friends. By getting an action to show up in multiple users’ feeds, you have a chance to have it be seen by a lot more people.

Graphrank – One of the largest promotion vehicles for brands is an innovative or reward-based contest or promotion. “Like us and then enter” is messaging that is frequently employed by brands on pages to encourage this interaction. Already, people have been arguing that a Like is not the true value, and with this new rollout, apps that stress a one-time engagement will become even less important. Starting now, an app will only have to ask for permission once and then every action will be recorded in the timeline. The ticker will still record every engagement, but the timeline will hold summaries of a user’s activity.

The new addition of Graphrank will make user engagement even more important. The quick idea behind Graphrank is a personalized scoring experience based on a user’s friends and personal engagements, and repeated engagements over time will make that score higher.

Visual Importance – Another recurring theme from the launch announcement was the importance of aesthetics in this new experience. From the additional large photo that will be at the top of the timeline area to the layout choices that designers will have to work with when deciding what stories to tell with their applications, visual cues will help increase engagement.

Marketers will have to re-look at their asset libraries and give users new assets that can help them make the most of their profile. It could be as simple as offering a pre-sized image that is provided by a brand to a user to plug into these new areas, or designing new assets that are a better fit.
In the timeline, each story will be more popular with a powerful image that can be associated with it. Brands need to make sure their assets can be used to help a user tell certain stories.

There was a lot more that came out of the f8 conference, and we will be keeping a close eye on it as different features are rolled out over the next couple months.