F8 now has several years under its belt, and attendees and the media have come to expect that as Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, takes the stage at the one-day annual Developers Conference, something is about to change on the landscape of social networking.
The anticipation for this F8 was certainly no different, as tickets for the event sold out in a number of minutes. The release of a second round of tickets sold out even faster. Put the leaks and rumors aside, attendees from all over the world were expecting big things.
My first overall impression of the keynote sessions was how big a role photos and visual media play in the new Facebook experience, both for consumers, and ultimately, brands.
The Photos app has always been one of Facebook’s most popular. As such, the writing was on the Wall, so to speak, to make improvements in the presentation and consumption experience. As of late, Facebook had fallen behind in terms of photo user and engagement experience found on other social networks like Tumblr, Posterous and Google+.
None of the announcements last week highlighted photos and visual imagery as much as the Timeline feature, inspired by Nick Felton – now Facebook employee – and his iconic Feltron Annual Report.
It should be noted, that for Felton to create the magic that is his annual report, he saves literally thousands of notes, receipts, photos and other data from the most minute aspects of his life.
It remains to be seen if Facebook users are willing to give that level of detail to a social network. That said, if even a fraction of Facebook users curate their lives in as much detail as Felton, marketers will certainly be frothing at the mouth.
Obviously, Facebook takes into consideration that there are only a handful of Feltons within the newly announced record 500 million daily users, and the rest can add paint to this canvas less frequently, while still building a meaningful ‘scrapbook’ of their lives.
The second major announcement was Open Graph, whose capabilities enable a richer, more direct relationship between individuals and the places, events, and content they care about.
Companies such as Spotify, Goodreads, Yahoo, Wetpaint and Netflix showcased their Open Graph apps, signaling the evolution of a platform where media is only ‘teed up’ by the publisher, and where deep interaction, discussion and sharing between users can finally occur.
This is a welcome change. Brands on Facebook who made great efforts to present quality content on Facebook could, in some instances, be penalized by its popularity.
Users who want to interact with great content on large Facebook Pages can easily become lost in meaningless streams of user commentary. The new changes rely substantially on the activity and influence of your friends for engagement and interaction, reducing the size of the influence circle, but making it more relevant.
As a social media entrepreneur, I see Facebook’s new content and canvas strategy as an extraordinary opportunity for brands and publishers.
Users will have the ability to express preference and share experiences in entirely new ways. Smart brands will recognize their role within the canvas of their audience, using creativity to shape ‘serendipity” as Zuckerberg termed it, without coming across as pushy or salesy.
Facebook makes changes – big changes – all the time.
Users squabble, and then they get used to them.
It will undoubtedly take users some time to get used to Timeline, Ticker, Open Graph, and, of course, the word ‘serendipity.’
But in the end, the control to curate their own stories and lives will win over the running list of ‘stuff,’ which is what the Wall risked becoming. For brands, Timeline and Open Graph are huge steps forward in the ability to create lasting relationships with customers and clients.
Let’s see where this new level of interaction and engagement takes us.