F8's Big Facebook Changes: Timeline, Ticker, News Feed, Apps

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and others announced revolutionary and supercool changes to Facebook.

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and others announced revolutionary and supercool changes to Facebook.

According to Zuck in his introduction to the keynote:

  • A record 500 million people used Facebook the same day. We’re connected now. The next era will be defined by the social apps that use these connections.
  • The profile is the heart of the Facebook experience, and people invest a lot in their profile. The old 2004 profile: How you introduce yourself to people, the first five minutes of your conversation.
  • People wanted more ways to express themselves, so we added the stream: That’s the next 15 minutes of a conversation — what you’ve been doing recently — which came in the 2008 new profile.
  • But there’s more to us, to our deepest conversations. You want to express the story of your life in terms of the most important and meaningful parts of your life — this is the heart of your Facebook experience.

The biggest new element today is timeline, which Facebook has been working on for a year, although the apps changes and implications of the new GraphRank are huge as well.

Timeline is the story of your life, in a single page

  • The timeline is about stories.
  • A new class of apps will work with timeline, the ticker, and the news feed.
  • This is about a new way to express yourself, and as you can see, it’s much richer visually.

And as Chris Cox, vice president of products, said, infographics have become very important — visualizing huge amounts of data. The timeline is about doing that for a person. What would a year in review look like for a person? Scrapbooks have been around for centuries, and this is a similar activity.

The timeline brings to mind the half dozen or so third-party outfits that have been selling coffeetable books based on your own profile — Facebook’s giving you this same content for free, on the site where you can share it with your friends.

You can navigate the Facebook timeline with the time slider.

  • Blue dots: more important things
  • Gray dots: less important things

To add stuff to your timeline:

  • Click on timeline, composer, then post.
  • Content for timeline can come from apps.

You can add a major event to your timeline. We’ll get more detail about this when it’s widely released.

Apps can help you summarize activity into Reports

Mobile apps work with the timeline and can give you monthly or annual reports.

Express Yourself

Zuck says your Facebook profile should be “a place that feels like your home.”

You highlight and curate your stories to express who you really are. Your cover photo is the big wide photo at the top — it should be a unique moment in your life.

You still have your profile picture.

To add a cover photo, you first click on the star (which also tells Facebook this is important) and you get a big photo to use as a cover.

The timeline lets you control:

  • What you show;
  • How you display it, and
  • Who can see it.

The way timelines look can be very unique — a traveler versus a musician versus a runner. Here is a musician’s timeline:

Open Graph, Apps, and Connections

Facebook has created a new class of apps to deal with the next version of open graph. Facebook’s mission is to make world more open and connected. They want you to have a more personal experience.

As of 2007, you could connect by liking. Now they want you to connect any way you want. What if you read a book but you don’t want to like it?

What if you watch but don’t want to like a movie? You might not feel that strongly about it, and you might not want it to go into the Newsfeed to annoy your friends.

Now you’ll be able to eat a meal, hike a trail, and so on, and the activity shows up in the news feed . This means Facebook is adding verbs to the connections in the social graph.

The company believes this will create many, many more connections in the graph. It also helps you express yourself in new ways — you don’t want to annoy friends with boring stuff.

The ticker is a lightweight stream for less important stuff — a socially acceptable way to express lightweight activity.

  • activity into ticker and timeline but not news feed.
  • .share goes into news feed.

You can define an action and publish in this new class of social apps. There are a lot of naturally social actions — communication and games — and there are already social apps for these. But there are not-so-social activities… private things — medical, finance — and there are few or no apps for these.

Build New Apps And Rethink Industries: Music, Movies, and News

  • Frictionless: You can now add activity to the timeline without seeing a share box pop up. You can still publish, but you can add lightweight activity without the share box. Permissions: adding apps to add activities.
  • Real-time serendipity: This is about the ticker. Friends are already doing lots of things — we just aren’t aware of them. We’ll find out about them in our ticker: “Oh, friend is listening to song, I’ll listen too at the same time.”
  • Patterns: This is about the News feed. Sometimes people do stuff that’s more rare or interesting (playlist created), or lots of friends listen to the same artist — this goes into new feed.

Music: Now you can chat and listen with your friends, regardless of the music player. You can find new commonalities with a friend.

The key to making the music biz work is trying to help you discover songs to buy more content than you would have otherwise. Discover music through your friends.

Zuck had the CEOs of Spotify and Netflix come up and talk about how social will accelerate what they do. As Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said, he might watch a movie he’d been putting off if a guy he was meeting later that day was watching it now. That’s a great commonality and conversation starter.

This works for reading news, too. You can see what friends are reading, such as via The Washington Post social reader looks like this:

Taking Games to the Next Level

Games have been most successful app thus far. Now, there’s no share box — activities go straight to the ticker. And more information will be visible to friends. Mike plays a specific word in Words with Friends while playing Carl, and I can see that word and even a picture of the board.

Integrating This Into Your Apps, and OMG GraphRank!

Very easy: Decide what action in your app fits into the social graph, and add an add to timeline button in your app. Facebook is launching six templates and a flexible query engine. You can add geolocation to the activities. It works everywhere — Web, mobile, iPad, everywhere.

App discovery: If people like it, they should see it. You shouldn’t need tricks or gimmicks for people to find them.

GraphRank may be the new EdgeRank. What do I want to see in the news feed versus someone’s timeline? Different types of relationships work differently — work friends versus family, for example. And this is probably going to integrate the new friends lists and family categorizations.

App developers will see what activities people do the most and what annoys people.

Brian Carter is author of The Like Economy: How Businesses Make Money On Facebook.