What’s Behind Facebook’s Latest Changes?

We’ve all seen the commentary about the latest Facebook changes announced at the f8 conference—including the much-hyped Timeline that chronicles a user’s entire existence on the social platform—but what’s really behind them and how will they impact personal and business users?

It’s clear that Facebook is moving toward self-selected data categories, e.g., classifying groups of people (a huge differentiator of Google+ with Circles) and designating who can access status updates or photos. Additionally the news feed now reflects a class system rather than appearing chronologically, with the most engaged Facebook users’ posts showing up as higher priority than Aunt Mary’s occasional posts.

How will Business pages be affected by this change? If a business doesn’t make it into the priority feeds of its Facebook members, then its posts may be shuffled into the smaller, harder-to-read chronological ticker—thus weakening a company’s ability to stay socially connected with its fan base. To combat this issue, businesses will need to ensure a strong affinity with fans by paying close attention to Facebook’s “EdgeRank” algorithm.

From the looks of these changes, I’d say Facebook is greasing the skids for a major monetization step. It had a goldmine of rich user data before, and with further targeting, that data’s value just skyrocketed. And although still under privacy protections, users will now only be asked once by Facebook apps for permission to share stories, potentially freeing up more user data sharing. Further, with Timeline automatically highlighting users’ most exciting or emotionally-charged posts photos/videos, apps they’ve used, and where they’ve been, Facebook profiles are morphing into each user’s life story—offering a clear understanding of their preferences and aversions…and translating into valuable marketing data ripe for the picking.


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