Archives for posts with tag: future

In my last post I declared the future is not feeds. Then, Facebook implemented Ticker — an additional feed of your friends’ activity.

Conceptually, I think there’s some merit to it, but in it’s current state, Ticker doesn’t achieve its intent. Plus, visually I think it’s too cluttered. Nonetheless, Ticker and some other changes from F8 show Facebook is making an effort to solve a growing problem.

The problem, as I mentioned in my previous post, is that the News Feed has too much data and not enough context. Ticker aims to be a lightweight stream of your friends’ activity — songs they listen to, things they like, comments they make, people they connect with. The News Feed has “Top Stories” and more compiled activity.

However, the dual feed fails when it shows the same items, especially at the same time. I’m hoping this won’t happen when there are more Open Graph apps sharing general activity in Ticker (“Your friend is listening to a song”) and composite stories in News Feed (“3 of your friends listened to an artist”).

The News Feed algorithm definitely appears to have improved, and I look forward to Facebook being even more selective about what to show there. (Note: I have disabled Better Facebook to get a true sense of how the platform has been working since F8.)

What should happen is the Ticker publishes live, or near live, stories that are created automatically by people’s engagement with various apps. The News Feed then is a place for actively shared items and composite stories. And Facebook shouldn’t hesitate to cut some of its own stories (profile photo changes, people becoming friends with each other, people going to events, checking in) unless there is high affinity between users or if the event or checkin is nearby. Otherwise that data should be saved and presented when it’s more relevant.

What Facebook has done with Spotify and other music apps is a great start to organizing data in a way similar to what I’ve been envisioning. There are more items that could be added to the music dashboard (page likes, mentions, events) and more dashboards that could be created (movies, news, restaurants), but it still bodes well for a future beyond the feed.

This was part of my News Feed the other day:

Useless and boring — the worst combination.

No offense to anyone in my stream. It’s not you I’m uninterested in; it’s the data Facebook is choosing to show me.

Because that’s what these stories are: data. It’s all great information for Facebook to collect and store, but it’s not content that should qualify as ‘news.’ I can’t wait until social media data is organized in a way that is more useful to us all. The future is not feeds.

The actions we take and information we share online have the potential to be tremendously useful. Of course I want to know what restaurants my friends have been to, but I don’t need Facebook to show me every time a friend checks in somewhere across the country. When I start researching travel or when I arrive in another city, that’s when I want to see that checkin.

I’d love to be able to see all my friends’ activity related to movies in one place, so that when I’m deciding what to see this weekend, I can view which new releases my friends have liked, any posts or comments about those movies and any relevant checkins from Get Glue or other services.

I want to be able to visit a band’s Facebook page and not only see which of my friends like that band, but what they’ve said about the band, which songs they’ve shared and whether they’ve been to a concert.

All of this information is on Facebook’s servers, and it’s inevitably going to be organized this way. Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook users are sharing twice as much each year. With that sort of exponential growth, it’s obvious the News Feed will have to evolve.

The solution is not to generate and view lists of different people. Companies have to organize feeds around content. While Google+ is focused on Circles and Twitter’s biggest changes involve adding multimedia, Facebook seems to be actually pursuing ways to sort posts.

There’s the new ‘X of your friends posted about Y’ feature and the fact that Facebook has quietly begun categorizing some shared links. Notice the favicons:

Compared to the traditional symbol for links:

This bodes well for a future that moves away from the unfiltered feed and toward highly relevant search results and push notifications.

In the meantime, I’ll be using the Better Facebook plugin to sift out some of the noise.

Facebook has added a new feature called Questions, which allows users and pages to ask questions in a format that makes polls more social and creates opportunities for brand content to go viral. The tool also makes it easier to get recommendations from friends and has implications for the future of social commerce.

Facebook Questions are easy to answer like polls, but more compelling because people have the option to add their own responses for others to vote upon. When people answer questions, it shows up on their walls and in their friends’ News Feeds, leading more people to participate and so on.

Last year Facebook tested a different version of Questions that asked people to write full text responses to questions a la Q&A site Quora. But Facebook recognized its users were more interested in opinions than facts and that they preferred clicking to writing. The new Questions should have much higher adoption.

For users it’s an easy and organized way to get thoughts and recommendations from friends. For brands, it’s an additional way to engage with and learn about consumers. And since Facebook pages are tagged in the answer options, it’s a new way for people to find and connect with brands.

Now imagine the possibilities for Questions if/when Facebook releases the API. As with the the Like button and the new comments plugin, Questions will blur the lines between on-Facebook and off-Facebook. For instance, at the end of every news article or blog post, the writer could pose a thought-starting or opinion-polling question. When someone answers that question, it would generate a News Feed story, leading more people to discover the content.

More interesting to ponder: what if you were looking at a pair of Nikes online and had the option to answer, “What do you like best about these shoes?” Or maybe you’re at Niketown and the question pops up on your phone when you scan a pair of sneakers. When you check out, you could be served a question about your service that day. The whole time your answers are being shared with friends to whom your opinions and experiences matter.

Whether used this way or in its simplest form, Facebook Questions is undoubtedly part of the movement toward an economy where our decisions are more influenced by our social networks than traditional advertising. Keep an eye on this.

(CC) Brian Solis, http://www.briansolis.com and bub.blicio.us.

Every recent college grad knows Mark Zuckerberg’s name. We read it multiple times a day logging onto TheFacebook.com. “A Mark Zuckerberg Production,” it said up top.

Now most of us likely think the name with at least an ounce of disdain. That Mark Zuck, just trying to make a buck. He opened up Facebook to the world, made the site lame and now probably bathes in Perrier.

Until I started researching all things Facebook, I too thought the social network was losing its luster as it expanded and became more commercial. Now, I have only awe and respect for Zuckerberg. Zuck’s understanding of the web, business and human nature is astounding. It’s no wonder he has changed the world.

But he’s not done. Squashing imitators, surpassing MySpace and fending off Twitter are small feats compared to Facebook’s next goal: overtaking Google and becoming the internet as we know it.

I was shortsighted when I thought Facebook’s reign would end when it lost a certain level of cool. Facebook doesn’t care about being cool. Facebook wants to be ubiquitous and indispensable.

Not too long from now, you will turn to Facebook for everything. You will start using it as a search engine. Community pages will have wikipedic info. You will pose questions to and find answers from the whole Facebook community (a quaint word for what will likely be one billion by next year). Subject pages, like Comedy, Politics and Health, will become go-tos, especially when major companies start producing content for them.

Brand pages will get better — less insipid self-promotion, more original content and diligent customer service. You will seek product reviews and recommendations from your friends. Apps will have more functionality and buying products through them will seem natural. There will be little that won’t live on Facebook. And other sites will continue to integrate the Open Graph into their own, so you’ll be on Facebook even when you’re not on Facebook.

Soon, not using Facebook will be akin to saying, “Nah, I don’t do Google.”

Photo credit to Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com and bub.blicio.us.