Friday Four: Four Reasons to Like the New Facebook

Posted by · September 23, 2011 11:03 pm

I could do a regular Friday Four this week, but even if your only interaction with technology is your cell phone, you probably know what’s been going on in the industry this week: Google got into our wallets and then met with the government, Meg Whitman got a new job and Facebook is making some changes.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I was live tweeting some (sarcastic) comments about Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote speech at Facebook’s F8 Developer’s Conference yesterday.  Overall, I was disappointed.  Not because some of the features aren’t cool, but because Zuckerberg’s presentation of the features was less than stellar.  (You would think all that money could buy him some better public speaking skills.)

Personal critique aside, however, Facebook’s upcoming changes are impressive yet overwhelming—especially for the site’s less tech-savvy users–and Zuckerberg and Co. face an uphill battle to get the average Facebook user to “Like” the changes.

Since I, myself, am somewhat of a Facebook fangirl (say what you want about privacy, but if you don’t want your information available on the Internet then don’t put anything about yourself out there. Why do you think I won’t use Google Wallet and don’t do much online shopping?), I thought I’d help the social media giant out (cause you know, I’m sure they need me) and give four reasons why you should like the new Facebook:

1. It feeds your inner narcissist

One of the main changes Facebook will be making is to the profile.  The company is adding a Timeline for each user which shows all the stuff you’ve done recently (and shared on Facebook) as well as a summary of some of the things you’ve done in the past.  The further back you go, the less Timeline will share, but you can add or delete things to any part of your Timeline as you see fit. As Zuckerberg put it yesterday, “Millions of people have spent years curating the stories of their lives and today, there’s just no good way to share them.  Timeline is the solution.”

In addition to Timeline, Facebook will be creating lifestyle apps that let you tell your friends everything you want them to know about your daily activities (and every good narcissist DOES want people to know about those activities): what you’re cooking, where you’re running, what you’re reading, etc. At the end of the year, you’ll be able to run a report of what you’ve done that year and send it out to all your friends.  I’ve never been good at mailing Christmas cards, but emailing the Jenn Prentice Annual Report should be a snap. (I can hear my friends readying their Delete key now.)

In all seriousness, Facebook knows what the scrapbooking and blogging industries has known for years: People want to capture and curate memories and if given the opportunity, they will share those memories with anyone who will listen. The bonus for Facebook users is that organizing your Timeline takes a lot less money than scrapbooking and fewer words than blogging.

2. It (potentially) expands your horizons

Unless you are smarter than every single one of your Facebook friends (and I don’t doubt that some members of the Experts Exchange community are), there’s generally something new you can learn from the people you’re connected to. As an avid reader, I’m most excited about the social reading apps being launched that will make it easier to see what some of my more intelligent friends are reading these days or get a magazine-esque view of some of the content my favorite Facebook pages have produced.

In addition, some of Facebook’s new lifestyle apps will make it easy to see what my foodie friends are cooking these days or what my most stylish friends are wearing and shopping these days. Basically, if there’s something you want to learn more about, Facebook is making it easier to discover information about that thing.

3. It entertains you

Spotify, Hulu, Netflix. You name the entertainment company and it is getting deeper Facebook integration.  Both Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings took the stage during yesterday’s keynote to talk about the new apps that they will be launching to help people discover new music and movies via their Facebook friends. (Sidenote: Netflix will actually not be launching in the US due to government restrictions.) Both services will let people publish the songs they are listening to or movies they are watching to their Facebook Timeline (I assume the Hulu app will let you do the same). If you want to listen to a song with a friend, just hover over the song title and you can do so.  Want to watch a movie that your friend has watched? Click on it and an overlay will launch over top of Facebook that lets you watch instantly.

There is one tricky thing you should know about the new apps though: They will only ask you one time whether you want to publish your activity to your Facebook wall.  So, if you’re wary of overloading your friends with me-focused information, it’s probably best not to use some of these apps.

4. It’s (supposedly) easy to turn off

The unfortunate thing about this post is that I have yet to get hands on with the new Facebook features, but according to what  Zuckerberg said yesterday, those of you who aren’t interested in dabbling with the new Facebook apps can stick with the old Facebook they know and love.

“The new class of apps will help you post stuff to your Timeline but also find new things you might like,” he said. “It’s a frictionless experience. If your goal is to just add lightweight activity, you’ll never have to see one of these prompts ever again. So to make this work, we completely redesigned the permissions dialogue so that the entire reason you’re adding an app, you’re doing so to get that activity on your wall.”

The bottom line with all of these updates is that information overshare is the way that the new social web is going; and Zuckerberg and his staff have made these updates to stay relevant for at least the next few years.  Facebook is and it appears will remain a free service, and in my opinion, paying nothing for a product negates the users ability to complain about it.  For those of you who aren’t a fan of Facebook’s new direction, you do have other options.