Some Facebook users are seeing stories about upcoming events and recently released albums in their News Feeds, we’ve found.
The new stories are similar to the “upcoming concerts” module that some users began to see last month. Now, Facebook is suggesting some non-music events, as well, based on their location, pages they Like and friends’ plans. Previously these suggestions appeared on users’ event calendars but not in the feed. Users don’t typically visit their events page very often so they were less likely to discover these options. As long as the recommendations are relevant, users may welcome seeing suggested events in News Feed.
A new music-related module highlights a recently released album by an artist that a user has listened to on Spotify. Users can click to begin streaming the album through Spotify. It is unclear whether Facebook is offering the same feature for Rdio users.
[Update 12/6/12 – We’ve now seen the recently released albums feature directing users to Myspace. The module now also includes a link to Like the artist’s page on Facebook.]
News Feed has always been a place to see stories and activities from friends and pages users have explicitly connected to, but these modules show how Facebook can use Open Graph data and other cues to generate new types of stories. We may begin to see more News Feed items like this, which do not come directly from a user’s friend but might be interesting to users. Trending articles and trending videos were an early example that seemed less personalized, but for example, Facebook could let users know about a new movie opening this weekend if the user watched a trailer for the new release or likes a similar film.
Another benefit of these types of stories that don’t come directly as the result of a user’s friend taking an action or making a post is that they lend themselves well to sponsorship. Upcoming events, recently released albums, the hypothetical movie module or other similar features could easily be options for ads in the future. If Facebook moves toward a feed with these algorithmically generated stories — as opposed to straight friend activity and page posts — new ad units will feel more native. For instance, there could be a “Happy Hour” module for bars and restaurants or “Ongoing Sales” for retailers or online stores. Businesses could pay to be featured among other organic recommendations.
For now, the upcoming events and recently released albums modules are not sponsored. Facebook is likely gauging how interested users are in seeing these types of stories by how frequently they click through. There is not a way for users to provide direct negative feedback on the units, such as hiding them or marking them as spam.