On September 22, Facebook announced some major changes to their product that has sent quite a stir around the virtual social sphere. These changes are having some profound impacts on what Facebook will be used for in the future, how we interact with it in terms of business, and potentially its market share of the social space.
Timeline was Mark Zuckerberg’s big announcement of the 2011 f8 conference. This is another change to the profile and what information is presented to other Facebook users and the public. Zuckerberg described the change when he said:
We often talk about your profile at Facebook as if it’s what you’d share with someone when you first met them, in the first conversation that you’re having….Timeline is the story of your life, and it has three pieces: all your stories, all your apps, and a new way to express who you are.
If you look at the new Timeline layout, you’ll see it arranged to highlight the important aspects of your life, and share it with others (from “the world” to your connections). In its basic sense, Timeline allows people to find information you’re sharing without endlessly scrolling through your wall.
Technical Overhaul – The Graph
As Facebook has gained adoption and popularity over the years, it has worked to be the social platform, working with hundreds of sites to offer a single login for users that would also help connect their activity to Facebook. The challenge in the past has been the interface between a third-party site or app and Facebook.
As Zuckerberg put it in his keynote, The Graph aims to make the connection between what you want to share with others more frictionless. This means when you’re reading an article on the Wall Street Journal, you don’t have to “Like” the article to share with people that you’ve read the article, and you don’t have to give it 3 levels of permission to share that you’ve read the article.
The Fears of Facebook
Any time Facebook has adopted a major change there are inevitably fears of how much information they have, and how secure that information is. Here are a few of the fears we’ve seen circulating around the web and the reality of those fears:
- Facebook will track all my activity online, even when I’m not signed it. This fear is mostly fiction, with a hint of fact. As the Graph is rolled out and adopted across third party sites, it will make it possible to share your activity with others, even without specifically being signed into Facebook. However, this is a permissions based transaction. If you don’t give Facebook permission to do so, they cannot and will not.
- The changes to Facebook will make it easier for people to scam or stalk me. This fear plays off the uneducated Facebook user (not our readers of course). When it comes to sharing information on Social platforms, you must exercise caution. Never share sensitive information, like Credit Card numbers, social security numbers, or passwords (just to name a few). If you wouldn’t want someone you don’t know seeing something about you, don’t post it. If we’re going to engage the social space, we must still exercise social filters we would in a face-to-face meeting.
- Facebook has too much information on me, what if my profile gets hacked? This is the same kind of fear as above. While Facebook asks for a lot of information (email, address, phone, etc), it only requires an email to have an account. Therefore, any additional information you offer is by choice. If you don’t want to risk people getting your information through Facebook, don’t provide it.
Will Facebook’s Changes Impact My Business?
While Timeline is primarily an overhaul of the personal Profile, The Graph is an overhaul of some of the parts of Facebook geared toward businesses. If the business page is the extent of your business’s interaction with Facebook, there are no announced impacts at this time. However, as with many things we’ve seen in the past, it is likely the business page will change down the road.
If your website integrates with Facebook to allow users to post your content, aside from simply using social sharing bookmarks, you’ll want to make sure your programming team is converting your integration over to be compatible with The Graph.
We expect to see additional changes for businesses a little further down the line. Be sure to keep checking back to see what changes are happening and to make sure your business is positioned to make the most of Social Media Marketing.