Facebook’s announcements at f8 yesterday upped the ante in the race to control how users will apply their online identities to discover and share content. The new features launched by Facebook have taken direct aim at Google and Twitter.
On the Front Lines of Social at f8
Integrating lighter sharing into the new Facebook Ticker feature greatly expands what a publisher can do to help drive discovery and mindshare using Facebook. By setting expectations up front that users will see more serendipitous content within the Ticker, Facebook made a move to entrench itself as a primary aggregation point for a user’s interest graph. For users, the Ticker is the starting point for surfacing what content friends engage with and what friends’ interests are in real-time and this likely will drive many to follow their Ticker versus their hashtags.
Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated Facebook Ticker along with Spotify during the keynote but it was important to note the range of other music services he shared that are also using the expanded Open Graph to drive deeper engagements. Open Graph represents the biggest opportunity to drive a new class of apps and engagement as we extend beyond the sharing of content to the sharing of apps.
From a privacy perspective, it’s going to be a little daunting for users who don’t understand how to change their privacy settings or what they can opt out of in terms of sharing. Users can choose to opt out, setup Friends Lists or apply new Smart Lists to filter content in the new Facebook Timeline but how a user controls their Ticker and how Facebook’s Graph Rank algorithms affect what’s surfaced in that Ticker is less intuitive.
I spoke to Facebook CTO Bret Taylor about the importance of the new Facebook Read plugin which is coming soon. Publishers will have a number of new ways to generate recommendations from their readers including time spent on a page, percentage of an article that one scrolls through and by manually recommending an article. The new social plug-ins will greatly enhance a publisher’s ability to drive viral engagement through Facebook as users look to share more about the food they eat, the music they listen to, the news they find interesting and the fantasy football teams they’ve put together.
At the VC panel led by Facebook’s Ethan Beard, a panelist admonished brand managers for not getting out of their silos and sharing data across the company. Brands and marketers are more incented than ever to know who their Facebook users are and they will want to plug in platforms like Janrain to generate and capture this data across all social touch points. There are trade-offs for moving into a world where everything is shared but Facebook sets the bar high in exposing even more of the interest graph and content owners will not want to be left on the sidelines as all content gets more social.