Every time I receive notification of a post in Benny’s Surf Club of Awesomeness, I get a little homesick for the West Coast. My friend, who lives in San Diego, started this group nearly a year ago. It’s a really active, fun group of people who love life, the beach and surfing. How can I not feel a tinge of longing as I am notified of their posts about group BBQs and surf excursions during the frigid months of the East Coast winter? A year or so ago, I would have joined a group and not really followed what was going on. Thanks to the group improvements in 2011, I am now fully aware of what I am missing out on.
Improvements to Groups was just one of the upgrades Facebook made in 2011. In continuing our Top Facebook Moments of 2011 (read Part 1 here), let’s round out the list with several of the changes implemented in conjunction with f8 this year.
As my personal experience illustrates, unless we were checking in on them constantly, we didn’t have as much of an opportunity to be envious of group activities taking place in Facebook groups of the past. Groups were not as integrated into the home page and users had to make more of an effort to find out about current events. As more “personal” social networks popped into the picture in 2011 ( Google+ and Path), Facebook tailored Groups to better fit the user experience. Facebook’s new product manager, Paul Adams, had been advocating that our online networks should align with our offline networks since he worked at Google . His research keeps Facebook competitive as technology evolves with the user’s experience. The Groups improvements include:
- Groups now have a Wall that summarizes all the recent activities of people within the group and a Publisher that enables members to share content
- Group activities will now be delivered to your News Feed
- Interacting with Groups will become easier since you can follow the links to the content directly from the News Feed stories or make comments on these stories directly from your home page
Like Button Extension
Changes to the Open Graph related to the Like button were announced at f8 2011. These adjustments made the Like button more relevant to the apps users interact with. Facebook simultaneously launched partnerships with media companies such as Spotify and Netflix to give users the ability to publish activity to their News Feeds, resulting in more sharing capability, as friends will see what media you consume as you click Watched, Listened to and Read.
This addition introduces new permission and privacy issues: “Previously, users had both grant an app initial permissions upon install and fill out a sharing prompt every time they wanted to publish something to Facebook. Now, users will grant a new type of permission that allows an app the ability to instantly publish activity without showing a prompt.”
These app interactions are bringing about enormous opportunities for social media marketers who are now able to target users according to their interaction with content to tailor Facebook ads.
Over 350 million active users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices. With the exponential increase of smart phone users, online experiences are rapidly being converted to mobile apps. Savvy businesses know how important mobile is for their online enterprises, and Facebook provided a vehicle for mobile as it increased its mobile functionality this year. Facebook kept good pace this year with announcements around Facebook Messenger and their highly-anticipated iPad app. Facebook Messenger was adorned with the following features https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=132470183510042:
- Swift messaging: one-click access to messages through your phone; messages update in real time
- Message friends one-on-one or start a group conversation with friends on Facebook or, if you’re using the app on an iPhone or Android, anyone in your mobile contacts
- Location mapping lets you see where the people in your conversation are, so it’s easy to meet up on the go
- Messenger is integrated with your Facebook messages and chats, so you can access all your conversations right in the app
- Ability to personalize and organize your messages by naming and choose a picture for your group conversations
As more and more users employ iPads for business and entertainment, the need for a new interface was eminent. iPad received it’s own app in October. Some highlights of the app include:
- A fun hands-on navigation approach
- Easy access to games, apps, friend lists and messages
- Chat, games and other features
- Bigger better photos; ability to take photos with the iPad itself
Offering users the opportunity to treat an iPad like a photo album, flipping through big, gorgeous pictures is right inline with another Facebook upgrade: the change in photo view and size.
Story telling has become a remarkable branding tool. Devising the most creative, engaging brand stories often time takes adding a few compelling images. In preparation of the launch of the Timeline, which utilizes visuals to a greater extent than the previous user profiles, they upgraded the photo-sharing tool.
We examined the refined photo tool in our post A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: According to the Facebook Blog, the photo sharing tool has been upgraded with an accelerated uploading capability and larger images (720 pixels to 960 pixels), giving users quicker access to more refined pictures. The viewer has also been redesigned to make images pop. This is wonderful news for users and marketers alike. To say photo sharing has skyrocketed in the past few years would be an understatement. Marketers would be wise to be mindful of the magnified role visual content is now playing on Facebook and its associated apps (Instagram recently upgraded their app with the ability to upload full-size photos to Facebook).
The subscribe button can be likened to following someone on Twitter, however, if you are a business it helps you gain more audience and potential customers while still keeping your personal profile. We’ll see how it evolves this year.
Facebook deals are designed to help businesses connect with loyal customers, while giving them the benefit of social distribution, as stories about the deal are published to users profiles when they are redeemed. There are currently four types of deals (individual, friend, loyalty and charity); performance has been excellent for small businesses.
The old Facebook messages were a little clunky, so it was newsworthy when we welcomed the refined Message format this year. Upgraded features include the ability to:
- View your messages, chats, and texts in one single location
- View related conversations with a contact in one single conversation thread
- Demarcate email messages from sources other than your friends in a separate folder
- Attach Office documents such as Word Excel and PowerPoint
- View Office documents such as Word Excel and PowerPoint
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