Regardless of whether you like the new Facebook profile layout, you have to commend the company for accomplishing so much with what, on its surface, seems like a design change. In reality, Facebook has done far more to secure its position as the top social network and provide advertisers with better targeting options.
Just a week ago, I was thinking about how Facebook profiles have lost much of their significance. In the pre-News Feed days, profiles were all there were, and people took care to prepare them accordingly. With the addition of fan pages and the Like button, profiles became ever-evolving without active editing. My profile is no longer a perfectly polished version of how I want you to see me, but it doesn’t matter because my friends and I aren’t interacting on each other’s profile pages as often anyway. More commonly, we’re doing this directly from News Feed.
So, just when people were starting to neglect their profiles, Facebook went and made them relevant again, if for no other reason than to make sure your information was up to date. Why? So ads work better.
The new features that allow you to add details about projects you worked on, sports you played, athletes you like, teams you support and people who inspire you are all meant to target ads more effectively. People are adding information they wouldn’t have thought to include before. This is good news for marketers and good news for Facebook.
Additionally, allowing more work and education details, along with languages you speak, gives Facebook some Linked-In-like qualities, which are needed to make Facebook an option for professional networking.
Then there’s the ability to highlight certain friends on your profile. At first, this sounds like a sophomoric feature like MySpace’s Top 8. But this actually isn’t a case of Facebook pandering to a particular demographic. This is Facebook’s clever way of getting people to make friend lists. As the social network expands to include friends and family, ‘how do you do?’ and ‘how do I know you?’ people are going to need to clearly control what they share with whom. The ‘featured relationships’ feature is a smart move toward helping people get to that point. When people feel confident with Facebook privacy settings, they will share more, which again, will help Facebook and advertisers.
One final note, the new layout turns Facebook ads horizontal with the body copy running next to the image rather than beneath it. This lets Facebook serve four ads more clearly above the scroll than the vertical layout did. It also removes the line between a person’s wall and sponsored content, making ads look more a part of the profile. This could be a boon for advertisers as well.
What do you think of the redesign?