October 7, 2011 2 Comments
I don’t use Facebook much. It must be something wrong with me because 800 million users can’t be wrong. Still, I just don’t get the point of reading what sauce a friend had on her spaghetti at lunchtime or a brand’s opportunistic dedication to Steve Jobs.
But when word came about of this new Timeline feature, I must admit my curiosity was piqued and I was one of the nerds searching the net for the developer hack that lets you use it before the official release.
So, is it any good?
Well, it certainly looks great. Thoughtful design abounds.
Plus, Facebook has given its users a major chance to redeem themselves since, as you transition, you get to choose which of your past updates go into the new Timeline and which don’t. Users with a troubled past will likely love the personal branding opportunity (though it is still unclear to me what happens to the updates you leave out).
I now use my Facebook account almost exclusively to publicize an Augure photography blog and only left in my Timeline what was relevant to the field of photography. And many others should use the opportunity to refine their profile according to the professional/social use they want to make of it. All good stuff.
But what about PR?
Weeell … Other f8 features are really sharing oriented and it’s obvious that Facebook is pushing harder towards the global internet experience they’d like to be. The online world of tomorrow according to Facebook seems to be users being connected all day long, all consuming and sharing pictures, music and video from within.
But there are a few other points to consider:
- LIKE and SHARE buttons will be customizable on applications. So a user on your page could click READING or VIEWING to inform his group of friends. This is intended to increase sharing and is probably good news for content publishers.
- Targeting capabilities will be enhanced. Although aimed at advertisers, this is probably the most interesting feature for PR since it will let you taylor your messaging to your audience a lot better.
How all this will link to search still remains very obscure, but the role of sharing and recommendation will probably play an even higher role in social search. However, recommendation may be a powerful trigger with teens but older Facebook users will want to find information by themselves. The old fashioned search way.
So, as things stand, I see the recent evolution as more of a Google busting attempt – by making search redundant and by gaining market shares of the targeted advertising treasure trove – than something really useful to create a better link between companies and their public. Definitely not PR oriented, then. Mind you, not that is was ever touted as being that.
We’ll soon see what Brand Pages (notice the Brand, not Company) add to the mix. I’ll post a follow-up after that next update.