Change may be scary, but no change means no progress. This, at least, appears to be Mark Zuckerberg’s theory as he pushes his creation forward, expanding Facebook’s empire, uses and capabilities. Zuckerberg’s latest public Facebook revamp has sparked a veritable cascade of kudos and criticisms. As is typical, early user commentary of the changes leans more toward the negative than the positive. However, when the dust settles, how will the new(est) Facebook impact consumer interactions and the public’s understanding of YOUR business?
new change brings new opportunity
Zuckerberg’s September F8 Conference marked the announcement of several modifications that have already begun to impact users. From the Smart Lists, to the News Feed, to the Personal Profile the rollouts will create a completely new functionality and look for the popular platform. While all the changes (Subscribe, Timeline, Top/Recent Stories, News Feed Ticker and Smart Lists) will affect the average user’s daily interaction style and timeline, three features stand out in particular potential
influencers of the customer-business social media interaction cycle:
- Top/Recent Stories
- News Feed Ticker
cut through the noise, focus on what matters
One of Facebook F8’s most noticeable products is the completely revamped News Feed homepage. The news feed now displays friend and page activities in three different sections, in two different formats. The first two sections occupy the main portion of the news feed, dividing stories by age and relevance as Top Stories and Recent Stories.
Recent Stories are just that – stories, posts, contests or interactions that have occurred recently in that day’s overall timeline. This feature is more objective than the Top Story page marque – a place where Facebook posts stories in which it feels the user may have a stronger stake or a particular interest. These areas only exhibit posts or higher interaction/traffic stories, as opposed to the previous feed, which showed each and every page and friend interaction.
Initial public reactions to Facebook’s Top Story listing were unfavorable, however, the social network provides an aside for this, making it simple for users to mark specific items as “Top Stories” and de-prioritize others. This way, each user’s Top Stories feature only the items that they actually want to see.
So how do these new features impact your organization’s social media itinerary? They make post content more important than ever. The more tantalizing your content, the more likely users are to Like, Share, Repost or Comment on them. While these interactions have always held importance, now, with the top-of-the-page Top Story spotlight jettisoning your high interaction items to enduring top-of-the-mind awareness, users will have these items in their feeds for longer. This increases their overall visibility across both individual user feeds and their momentum across the entire Facebook platform, above and before the noise of other low-traffic, “recent” stories.
tick, tick, track
Since Recent Story postings now have their own section below high-priority Top Stories, Facebook has launched the “Ticker” to keep users informed of each minute friend and page activity. The Ticker is a small, real-time scroller of ALL friend and page activities. Whether it’s a Post, a Like, or a Status or App Update, it’s ALL there, from ALL of your Facebook friends and pages. Right now, the Ticker appears only in the main Facebook homepage. However, projections anticipate that this feature may soon be extended universally across Facebook’s entire platform, as a consistently available answer to the early user complaints about Recent Stories’ downgrade.
The big benefit that the Ticker provides to businesses is similar to the benefit it provides to the average user: full activity coverage. Whenever a user likes your page, their friends see it. Once they have, no matter what you post, what you Like or how you update, the abbreviated details will show on your Fans’ Tickers. All they need to do is look, and they will see what you’re doing and be able to choose how they want to participate.
may I join you?
The Timeline is perhaps the most dramatic of F8’s unveiled prospects. A completely new way to organize user profiles, the Facebook Timeline allows users to construct a complete timeline of their lives, activities, interests, features and posts as their new profile. All user activities will be published, but some features will be pre-structured to receive more prominence than others and users will have the ability to hide, highlight, add or remove present and past events.
While the majority of Timeline’s features cater to the individual user, it does offer businesses one notable benefit: App Activity Sharing. Once a user opts to share a particular app-centric activity in which they choose to engage, like listening to a song on their Pandora or Spotify app, the Timeline automatically posts their next engagement with that same app and activity. Once published, this information becomes publicly available to the user’s friends allowing them to not only read, but also select and join their friends in that activity. Suddenly five of that person’s friends are using that app, performing that activity; then ten; then more, depending on the app activity’s intrigue.
is your social media strategy ready for F8’s opportunity explosion?
The most recent F8 rollouts provide your businesses plenty of opportunities to gain new fans and increase engagement. Plan your social media strategy ahead of time. Know and understand your brand’s personality and ensure that you have a team on hand to plan, guide and respond to fan interactions the moment they hit the user feeds.
However, take care: opportunities for success also present opportunities for failure. If your social media strategy has too many holes or your presence appears disingenuous, your content will be ignored on Tickers and excluded from Timelines and Top Stories. Consider enlisting a social media management partner to help monitor your feeds and ensure that your content presents real value, your conversations appear human and your vigilance is constant.