The New Facebook: Why I Like It

If you’ve stopped into Facebook within the past week or turned on the news, you’ve probably seen and heard about big changes to the service format and features.  You’ve probably seen opinions that range from extreme displeasure to not knowing what to think.  It seems strange that a free internet service causes such huge stirs and even makes the news doesn’t it?  Actually, I think this shows the truth of how important and powerful the service really is to connecting people.

Now, some may think this article may also turn into the now infamous “other social service killer” discussion.  Sorry to spoil it for you . . . it isn’t about that.  I actually use Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook all about the same amount of time.  I just use them for different purposes with some overlap between them.  So I’m sure they will all continue to stay around.

So, back to the changes with Facebook.  This morning I signed in and my Aunt had posted how she was upset with all the changes.  I can appreciate her viewpoint.  She actually just started using it not all that long ago and was just starting to get comfortable with the service.  So for newcomers, any change to format and functionality is huge.  For those of us who have been using the service for several years know change is pretty common and some of us have seen the need for a while especially as your base of connections grows larger and larger.  So what do I like about the changes?

  1. Social sharing is becoming more “seamless”.   Sharing what we are doing, thinking, watching, listening to, so forth and so on is one of the foundations of being social.  It’s really nothing new.  Just saw a good movie or heard a great song?  You want to tell others.  Had a great experience?  You want to tell others.  Today we can “tell others” even as these things are happening rather than after the fact.  Facebook is taking the “Like” button to the next level and allowing developers to call it whatever they like (no pun intended) across the web.  Say you read a great book and want to recommend it to others, instead of a simple “like” or “recommend” maybe the website changes it to “You Gotta Read This!” or whatever.  Likewise, Facebook places ‘Check in” has gotten better and better.  Once “checked in” it becomes a ‘hub’ for those visiting, or there now, to share their experience.  Most simply see this as a promotional thing for businesses and a simple response to FourSquare, but in all honesty it is far more than that.
  2. Upcoming Profile Timeline.  This feature takes your profile and reformats it to become the story of you.  If you’ve ever wondered what happened to all that stuff you posted on Facebook a few years ago . . . it’s still there.  It also takes all of your dates you assigned to important life events and drops them in to a timeline (hence the name).   Obviously there are privacy concerns with this one because now your profile becomes a bit more personal rather than simple generics.  Once this goes live in the coming weeks if you think there may be something objectionable you shared years back . . . you might want to go through and review it.  With recent controls over who sees what, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about more recent activity.  But better safe than sorry, and review it.  I really like the whole idea of telling one’s story through the profile and having more control over it’s look (i.e. Cover Image . . . see an example of mine at the top).  My ONLY REAL concern is what this will do for the service itself.  In my opinion, MySpace’s biggest contributing factor to it’s demise was in focus on the individual profile.  It was all about the profile page with MySpace and Facebook hasn’t been.  What will happen is yet to be seen, and it will be interesting to observe.
  3. More control over the social stream.  For anyone who has used Facebook for some time and grown their “Likes” and added friends, that stream of posts gets really difficult to work through and that the real heart of everything for the user.  Some of these new controls are:
    1. “Subscribe” rather than add as a “friend”.  This way you can better manage your real connections without adding them to your “friend list” and which posts from them you want to see.  Be pretty wild if you could do that in real life with people too, huh?
    2. The “Top Story”.  Now you can determine what is really a “top story” for you with that nifty new little left-hand blue corner tab.  So maybe there is a discussion going on and you don’t want to lose it . . . now just assign it as a “top story”.
    3. The second right-hand stream of posts.  This formatting is really nice and the pop-outs when you hover over a post and interact with it is very nice.
    4. The ability to post to multiple people at once for events.  Say you have five people in your friend list all with the same birthday.  You know you feel compelled to wish each a “Happy Birthday”, but boy is it cumbersome to go to each person’s page and write that.  Now you just click on one name to the right and they all come up allowing you to send each a tailored “Happy Whatever” message.
Basically what people are seeing is evolution of the social web and networking as a whole.  Each service is learning from one another and the uses are becoming better and better.  Facebook is will continue to change that is certain.  And not everyone is going to be happy about it.  Some will love it, and some will hate it.  But how is that any different than anything?  And that’s the beauty of life.  All in all, I like the changes and the direction the service is heading.  What do you think?
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Author:Brad West

I live in Palm Coast, FL with my family and have assisted my local parish with our website and communications. Our parishes today can benefit a great deal from technology. Whether it's improving communications, community building, evangelizing, business operations, and much more; we have the tools today. To help provide some direction and advice to parishes and parishioners, I wrote and published an eBook titled "The Connected Church" which is available through Barnes and Noble (Nooks and Nook apps) as well as Amazon (Kindle and Kindle apps).
  • http://www.sjwreled.org Frank Koob

    It took me a week to see having the stream of posts on the right as an advantage. In old Facebook I used to stroll through who is a new friend of whom, etc. Now I can scan it or ignore it. I just found the Subscribe feature. I have marked some friends as see every post and several to only important posts. I am not a gamer so i have marked certain friends with no game post. I will slowly discover more features. Frank

  • Joe Luedtke

    I’m a little worried that they’re changing Facebook a little too fast.  I’m worried its confusing the casual Facebook user.  However, if you’re really excited about these new features and want to stay right on the edge, you can actually jump into the Profile Timeline feature that Brad mentions right now by following these instructions, http://mashable.com/2011/09/22/how-to-facebook-timeline/#27125Step-1

    • Brad

      I agree that they did a lot at once which is very different for them.  I like the ticker thing on the side, but I don’t think they really thought it through and should probably tweak it.  It’s kind of like “eaves dropping” and a bit weird.  

      The instructions to to get the timeline going, as you linked to, are pretty simple to go through.  I was surprised how easy it actually was.  Not sure if they’ll leave it open that way or not.  Overall I like the Timeline format and will be interesting how that plays out.

      In all honesty, when it come to online social networking and Facebook even . . . who’d a thunk it?  Who’d have ever thought it would used in the ways it would be for personal and professional?  It’s an amazing evolution taking place.

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    That’s what facebook do to be interesting always and users too find these type of changes interesting..

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    Facebook timeline is a great change in facebook which boosted interest of its existing users and interest for new ones to join..