Thursday, September 29, 2011

InmanNext | Facebook is So Flippin’ Smart: Timeline? Ticker? And What the Heck Happened to My News Feed?

Like many of you, I logged into my Facebook page a couple days ago after the big f8 developer conference, and thought, “what is this?” Even though I knew change was coming, I was still taken aback by the new Home page format, the “missing” Recent News feed and the Ticker.

The highlight of f8 this year was the unveiling of Timeline, which is currently in beta until October 5th. It is available now via a Developer App.

If you are interested in trying out Timeline, read this fantastic post by InmanNext contributor Jimmy Mackin.

I held off on changing my profile over to the new Timeline for a day or two.  No particular reason, but generally I prefer to wait a day or two after changes happen on Facebook before I dive in and change anything.

So while preparing for this post, I watched Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote message again, and then I installed Timeline into my profile.

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Immediately after downloading it, I scrolled through my profile and it was like taking a trip down memory lane.

I have to say, Facebook is so flippin’ smart!


Because they have brought nostalgia and emotion back to Facebook.

Nostalgia and emotion are the bread and butter of what make Facebook work.

Why do you post something on Facebook? Because it means something to you.

Why do you share on Facebook? Because it interests you – perhaps it evokes an emotion for you.

Happy. Mad. Sad. Incredulous. Surprised.

It’s what makes Facebook work and it’s also what makes successful Facebook Pages work well.

Why is The Corcoran’s Group’s Facebook page thriving with comments, likes and shares?

Because they paint the picture of what it is like to live in New York City. They tell the stories of New Yorker’s and you every time you read something on their page, you feel a little bit more connected to New York City – regardless of where you live.

What did I see on my Timeline?

I saw my posts before I had worked for Inman News.

I saw the post the day I announced on Facebook I was pregnant with my second child.

I saw an awesome video Nicole Nicolay had posted for me last year on my birthday.

In one click, my life flashed before me – through the posts I had posted on Facebook, through my interactions, the pages I liked, the friends I added and the photos and videos I uploaded.

It was surprisingly a really emotional experience – to see all of my life’s important moments right there in front of me.

As Chris Smith mentioned yesterday in this post, there are bound to be real estate agents who abuse the Timeline and fill it with self-promotional material – i.e. an oversized obnoxious listing photo.

I’d like to think that won’t happen, but I’ve been around this block a time or two and will not be surprised when I see this. I do advise all agents reading this to embrace this opportunity – to not make your Timeline all about your business – but let it be a tapestry of your life; your family, interests, and yes, a little bit about your real estate business.

For me, the Timeline was a huge visual reminder that at the heart of social media is you and me.

There is a reason why you have to have a personal profile before you can even think about setting up a business page. Why?

Because at the heart of social media is our personal experiences. It’s the day to day likes, interactions, conversations and everything that happens in between as you get to know your Facebook friends better and you reveal more of your authentic self.

In addition to the new Timeline there are a slew of other new features.

Why is there a Ticker?

The Ticker is your lightweight stream of everything going on.

To be honest, at first glance the Ticker was a super annoying feature. It is a live feed that seems to be in constant motion. But then after listening to Zuckerberg. I really got the bigger picture.

The Ticker is for items that are not monumental that used to take up your News Feed – like when you friend comments on a photo or friends someone new. Now, those live in the Ticker. Also, by things living in the Ticker, you can respond or comment to someone in real time by hovering over the Ticker and not losing your place on your News Feed.

Zuckerberg calls this “real-time serendipity.”

He says,

“Your friends are doing a lot of cool stuff, but maybe they don’t have a way to share it.”

If you have a wider screen, slide the grey bar between Ticker and chat up or down to adjust how many updates you see at a time. To control who can see your updates anywhere on Facebook, including in Ticker and News Feed, adjust your sharing control or apps settings.

Where did the News Feed go?

The News Feed is still there, but now, when you visit Facebook, you will see the things you’re most interested in, like status updates from your family, closest friends and the pages that are most relevant to you.

Zuckerberg talked about how Facebook will be “finding patterns and activity.”

He says,

“Your News Feed looks for interesting patterns in activity – and will put it in your News Feed instead of just the Ticker.”

This impacts pages for real estate agents and brokers in a profound way. It is no longer about get tens of thousands of likes. Now, it is about having fantastic content that your members will want to share. The more your page content is shared, the more you will prominently appear in someone’s News Feed.

How often are you on Facebook? How does that affect your feed?
If you haven’t returned in a week, you may want to see a summary of top stories first. If you’ve already visited several times that day, you probably care more about recent news. So now, it is easier to keep up with the people in your life no matter how frequently or infrequently you’re on Facebook.

According to the Facebook blog,

“Now, News Feed will act more like your own personal newspaper. You won’t have to worry about missing important stuff. All your news will be in a single stream with the most interesting stories featured at the top. If you haven’t visited Facebook for a while, the first things you’ll see are top photos and statuses posted while you’ve been away. They’re marked with an easy-to-spot blue corner.

How will the Open Graph be a game changer?

According to Time Magazine:

“The Open Graph, aims to change the social network even more than the Timeline will. It lets third-party companies connect their apps and services to Facebook far more seamlessly than in the past — and in particular allows them to seek one-time, blanket permission from a user to share stuff with Facebook. Once permission has been granted, the apps can push out the details of everything the user does, no further human intervention required.

Until now, you had to Like a song on the Spotify music service for your friends to know you’d listened to it. Now, all the songs you listen to on Spotify get shown on Facebook automatically — and your friends can listen to those tunes on Facebook if they choose.”

Before, things would only appear on your Facebook page by “liking” it. Now, once you give permission to certain apps you can just “do” something.

“Open Graph is the most significant change we’ve made to our platform since we launched it in 2007.” CTO Bret Taylor at f8.

Zuckerberg says,

You don’t need to LIKE a book, you just need to read a book. You don’t need to like a movie, you can just watch a movie.”

What about apps?

In the past, Facebook had apps around things like communicating and games. The new phase of apps will revolve around media (like Netflix and Spotify) and lifestyle apps.

Zuckerberg talks about having a “frictionless experience” with apps – like not being asked to share something on Facebook right in the middle of a game.

What will this mean for real estate? Already it is becoming more and more apparent that is less about amassing thousands of likes, it is more valuable for people to share your content.

Now more than ever, real estate agents and brokers need to be creating and/or curating not just good content, but great content – content that their fans will share. This is just one more reason I am so excited about our new changes at Inman News with our content.

Now, agents and brokers can clearly and confidently share content they trust with their social networks. We knew this was of the utmost importance!

My takeaways?

  1. If you are concerned with the new changes, check your privacy settings.
  2. Be cognizant of the apps you allow access to your Facebook account.
  3. Content has always been king – but now it is more important than ever for real estate professionals. Do you have a content strategy? It is no longer an option to not have a strategy.

I’ll say it again, Facebook is so flippin’ smart.

They are staying one-step ahead, constantly innovating and raising the bar.

I’d love your thoughts and feedback about this post and about the changes.

Please post your comments below and if this post was helpful to you, please share it on Facebook and/or Tweet it out!

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