Facebook is taking a social platform where it needs to go
There is one constant in the universe: people hate change.
Last night, I turned on my Facebook timeline and published the new profile format to get a first-hand feel for the direction Mark Zuckerburg, CEO of Facebook, is trying to take his company.
I’m amazed. For the first time, I can see months of statuses, photos and videos I’ve posted to my Facebook wall at a glance. Facebook’s usually clunky design now looks a lot more like a slick magazine. It is easy to read, fun to explore and very visual.
I understand that change is hard on people and a tsunami of complaints is already on its way. However, despite the newness of our favorite, free social media platform, this is exactly the social media experience I’ve been waiting for.
Here are some reasons I believe you should stop and pay attention to the direction Facebook is going:
You Are Your Story. The story is the essence of human communication. As humans, we use the story to share experiences, relate to each other, provide context for our human condition and help us understand abstract concepts. The story is what propels writing and what fuels journalism. We crave stories and we need them both to make sense of, and relate to, the ever changing world around us. Facebook developers realize this and have taken the humble status and given it a stage. Your statuses are the milestones of your life. Rather than having your milestones disappear after they reach the bottom of the page, now all of your states are easy to find with a timeline on the side and you can now pull out important events and add them to your timeline, filling in your story from the beginning.
The Internet is a Visual Medium. Facebook is savvy to understand that we crave visual information; we come to the Internet not just to read but to look at photos and watch videos. The new timeline creates two nicely designed columns of visual content to draw visitors in. Your life is now a curated display of the highlights of your human experience. We connect to each other through photos and visuals on a deeper level than with text, and Facebook understands that the platform that makes it easy to leverage visual content is the one people are going to keep coming back to.
Sharing Media Means More Than Posting. I’m a fan of Spotify, the free (for now) music sharing service that connects you to your Facebook friends and shows you what they like to listen to. Now app developers like Spotify can push what you are listening to into the ticker news feed on the side. Do you see your friend listening to a Lady Gaga song in the afternoon? Click on the song title and you can listen to the same song at the same time. It’s a brilliant way to spread music through social networks. It doesn’t stop with music, either — it will happen with video streaming sources like Netflix and Hulu. Find your college roommate watching a zombie flick during the workday? You can click on the link and watch it yourself. This process helps us relate and gives us shared experiences. In this way, the social network gives us much more than just conversation.
We Need Context. As humans, we crave context. Context helps drive our decisions and frames how we perceive the world around us. In a social environment, we want to know who somebody is: Where did they go to school? How old are they? Who are they friends with? Where do they work and what do they do for a living? Contextual information helps us relate to each other, find common ground and build meaningful, fulfilling relationships with each other. The new Facebook timeline does a good job at providing instant context for us to get to know each other. We still have a profile photo, but can now add a cover photo – an image you select that says something about you. Our info is still at the top, however the junky navigation items that got in the way are gone, allowing us to gain context without the clutter.
Before you start complaining and threatening to flee Facebook, give the new timelines a chance. Spend some time curating your story and filling in the blanks. You might just be amazed, too.