Jack Welch once said, “Change before you have to”. Few other companies today have applied this wisdom with more consistency than Facebook. For better or worse, Facebook has always believed in pushing the envelope when it comes to making to changes to the platform. It is this willingness to constantly challenge both themselves and their users that some have credited with Facebook’s eventual dominance of the social media space.
To be sure, some changes have certainly been more popular than others, with Facebook sometimes drawing the collective ire of its now more than 800-million plus users. Despite the numerous stories one continues to read about people planning a mass exodus from Facebook, however, the global growth stats continue to boggle the mind month after month, with 1-billion Facebook users starting to look more likely sooner rather than later.
With this in mind, let’s have a look at ten of the most important changes Facebook has made in recent times:
1. Facebook Places
The advent of location-based social networking and subsequent growth of Foursquare and Gowalla, piqued Facebook’s interest in that space enough for it to create its own version, namely Facebook Places. This location-based app allows Facebook users to “Check In” to various locations. The acquisition of Gowalla by Facebook perhaps signals how serious they are about developing this product further.
2. New ways to interact and share
Facebook’s new class of social apps allow users to do more than just “like” an app, it also allows them to engage more authentically with an app by providing more descriptive actions for them to describe an action taken with an app. For example, on a recipe app, you can now, “cook” a recipe, instead of just liking it.
3. New class of social apps
Facebook has partnered up with a host of various websites, such as Spotify and Rhapsody, and app-makers to bring content that can be automatically shared and consumed on the Facebook platform. Facebook’s “new class of social apps” have the ability to post updates to your Timeline automatically.
4. Videos with friends
Facebook users will be able to watch movies together right from Facebook with the movie streaming in a separate window. Streaming sites like Hulu, YouTube, Netflix and more will all allow for concurrent watching with Facebook friends.
5. New music discovery
Facebook has launched a music dashboard, which will display music-specific notifications and updates. For example, a partnership with Spotify will let you see what music your friends are listening to in real-time. When a friend starts listening to a new song, an update will appear in your Facebook Ticker. Clicking on that update will let you stream the song in a music player.
6. News stories within Facebook
When a friend posts a news article or story they’ve enjoyed, you can read it within Facebook. According to TechCrunch, Yahoo will play an integral part in curating the stories that your friends are reading and sharing. “Yahoo has formed integrations with the social network in the past with its products, but we’re told this is one of the most in-depth implementations to date,” writes TechCrunch.
7. Grouping friends
Facebook has now made it easier for users to separate their friends into groups based on how close your relationships are with each group. For example when you put your closest friends and family into the close friends group, you will get a notification each time they update their status, add new pictures or comment on any content.
Facebook’s new profile design is the piece that everything hinges on. All of the new apps and methods of sharing are designed to help Facebook users build their timeline story and share with their friends, the things that are important to them.
9. New page insights
Marketers and page owners have certainly not been left out in the cold; Facebook’s new Page Insights allows page owners to more effectively optimize their page post strategies. For example, the new “talking about this” metric shows the page owner how many people are talking about your page in real-time.
10. New ad units
Facebook has continued to use social relevance and content as the pivotal point in the way they design of their ad units. The new units, much as Page Post Ads, use content that marketers are creating on their pages and amplifies it into targeted Facebook users’ newsfeeds as a Premium ad, allowing those users to engage with the content right in the ad unit without necessarily having to go to the fan page.
As the number of people using tools other than direct search to reach content on the internet continues to increase, tools such as Facebook’s like or Twitter’s tweet buttons will become a significantly more important part of many marketers’ strategies in the future. Social connections have irreversibly changed the way that we access and share information and although we can only guess where it will all end up, you can be sure that Facebook will be continue to be at the centre of all the action.