We’re not going to lie. The social network was starting to bore some of us.
Such a case of Facebook fatigue is not a good place to be when your core business is online media. But if we were tired, it was obvious other people were, too. We began rethinking future digital strategies: would Facebook continue to be the place to be? If its usage among the masses slows, what will replace it?
As it turns out, Facebook was replaced this week by a brand new Facebook that brought with it the introduction of a new home page and an extraordinary overhaul to profiles called Timeline. And in an instant, the magic of Facebook returned.
In short, here are the features, and what we think of them.
Profile becomes Timeline. Essentially, the old profile turns into a timeline of your life. You’ll see status updates you made years ago, comments people made about you, and your life history – for better or worse – laid out before you. You can even go back and add more content from your past, all the way to birth. Cool video of Timeline here. Timelines launch Sept. 29 to the public.
Liking and Verbing. You can still Like stuff, but you’ll also be able to do stuff. Anything. Developers will ow be able to “Eat” something, “Watch” something, “Play” something.
Ticker and News Feed. Smaller news items go to the ticker, a sort of news feed inside the news feed in the top right corner. Status updates and photos stay in the main News Feed.
These changes have us supremely excited in Facebook again, and thinking about how it will work in the future for people and companies. With Verbs (called “Facebook Gestures”), instead of “Liking” a movie, you’ll say you “watched” or “are watching” a movie. It’s a whole new way of interacting with audiences.
The update also has us thinking, for the first time in a long time, about Facebook applications. Facebook Apps now have the potential of competing with the iTunes app model. Facebook’s apps were once clunky add-ons to the service that had been marginalized out of existence, but now, they look to feature prominently in the new Ticker. The apps are what will bring on the Verb’ing of Facebook and these more significant connections. In fact, we’re more inclined to recommend apps now than just simple Facebook Tabs on a company’s page because the latter is just a splash page, whereas the apps are true branded engagement. Just like iPhone (or Droid or BlackBerry) apps, simple but significant features work best, especially given the new Verb environment.
As for the Timeline, where to begin. When you make the switch, prepare to take at least an hour looking at your life. It’s amazing. You may find yourself going total Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on your profile, deleting status updates from exes or erasing opinions you may have had years ago but view differently today. It’s a bizarre but ultimately superb update to Facebook. Timelines will usher in a whole new era about Identity, the Internet, human behavior, and personal history.
What’s more, company pages will likely convert to the Timeline at some point, so companies should start preparing for that.
Facebook is new again, and has proven that it is truly an innovator and not a passing fad. This update just bought the company several more years as the reigning champion of online communities.