The moment I found out Facebook would be testing the new Timeline in New Zealand, I immediately clicked over to my friend’s page. He lives in Auckland, and I was really, really curious to see how the Timeline worked on someone I have known for years. Several weeks later, when it was released to users in North America, I couldn’t WAIT to upgrade my own profile. The Timeline rocks!
A flood of status updates positively reviewing the Timeline has since illustrated that I’m not the only one who appreciated the upgrade, however, there has been diverse sentiment about many of the changes Facebook made this year. As we move toward the New Year, let’s recap some of Facebook’s greatest moments of 2011.
The highlight of the year for the majority of users was the implementation of the new Timeline. Historically, users push back and struggle adjusting to the changes Facebook has made, but most people just rolled with this one, and have been delighted as it pops up on more and more profiles. The Timeline was announced in October at f8, so there was plenty of time to build anticipation around its debut. There were many creative presentations explaining it. One of my personal favorites was the video of Don Draper presenting the Timeline. Watch it here.
The changes after f8 simplified and emphasized that ability to categorize your friends (a much needed improvement for the underutilized Lists feature). Following suit, the News Feed was also restructured into the main feed, taking up the majority of the space, and a new feature, the ticker, which was a smaller view of what is going on with all of your friends. This allowed more targeted content in your main feed, while the more superfluous news was filtered through the ticker.
GraphRank was introduced as a new component into EdgeRank, the algorithm that determines what shows up in users’ News Feeds. GraphRank takes into consideration edge signifiers generated from users’ activity that takes place outside of Facebook. This leads to more information competing for News Feed visibility. This move reinforces the “Content is King” slogan marketers have to adopt. Brand content has to be relevant and engaging for users to have a chance to appear in users’ News Feeds. This in turn helps the brands because users will interact more with the brand and its content, which ties in perfectly to our next greatest Facebook moment of 2011:
Advertising on Facebook is evolving into something much more organic than when it first popped into the side of our News Feed a few years ago. Remember the ads that would ask for an explanation about why you didn’t like them when you tried to delete them? The Sponsored Stories are essentially word of mouth marketing which highlight user’s interactions with their favorite brands for all of their friends to see. The varieties of Sponsored Stories have increased in leaps and bounds this year and include:
1. Page Like Story
2. Page Post Like Story
3. App Used / Game Played Story
4. App Share Story
5. Check-in Story
6. Domain Share Story
A year from when they debuted, Sponsored Stories will be moving into the News Feed in January 2012. Users activity will ultimately decide if sponsored stories will stay in the News Feed (there’s a lot of speculation on their success).
Facebook’s security technologies earned the nickname “Immune System” in the media this year. The system cleared out some of its most common digital maladies by implementing the following fixes:
- Partnering with Web of Trust has enabled the site to identify and block posts that include insecure web addresses
- A social verification system provides a means of recovering lost passwords through trusted friends
- Log-in approvals send code to mobile devices so users can authenticate attempts to access accounts from unrecognized machines
- Smart friend lists create groupings of contacts with things in common, all but forcing people’s hands to use this features for microsharing instead of publicly posting everything for all to see
Facebook also introduced Inline Privacy Controls by co-locating privacy controls near content sharing spaces on Facebook profiles, empowering people to take control over their own privacy. The options for what you share and who you share it with increased, and the process became more streamlined and user friendly.
The Talking About This metric was introduced. This new page insight was visible for all to see and provides information about how engaging a page is with a quick glance. Read all about it in our post People Are Talking About: Facebook’s New Metric.
Negative Feedback Metrics have been designed to measure negative feedback gleaned from page posts that have matriculated through the News Feed. This metric will be potentially huge as it is refined in the coming year, and content continues to be imperative to a page’s success on Facebook.
Credits became mandatory for all applications that request payment in exchange for premium content in 2011. The following devices were implemented for developers to facilitate more income:
- Get balance – shows individual users’ balances to developers
- Buy with friends – which encourages people to recommend purchases
- Frictionless payments – which enables gamers or shoppers to pay for goods without leaving the application
800 Million Users
This fall, Facebook announced that they had reached 800 million users (counted as users that had logged in during the past 30 days). Hitting this milestone was a reminder of the exponential reach available to companies who use Facebook for business, and a relevant Conference opening stat as the new updates were announced during f8.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Top Facebook Moments of 2011!