Facebook announces new changes

Facebook announced yet more changes last week. The two that interested me the most were the new ‘people talking about’ metric and the new timeline profile pages. Both have various implications from a WoM perspective – so here’s my take on it…

Facebook ‘people talking about’ insights

First of all – you’d think that they could have come up with a better metric name than ‘people talking about’? Talk about clunky. Anyway – apparently it’s not yet been ‘officially’ named so here’s to hoping the Facebook geniuses can crack something a bit more succinct. In the meantime, ‘people talking about’ will represent how ‘content-worthy’ your brands Facebook page is.

A new button will sit underneath the ‘like’ button that discloses your ‘people talking about’ ranking. The idea is that this will push brands to invest more time & effort into engaging with their fans.

The ranking will be based on user participation such as posts, liking, commenting, sharing, answering polls & questions and all other forms of engagement.

I think all in all this could provide a useful snapshot of the ‘quality’ of a brand page.

Interestingly, ranking excludes sentiment analysis so ALL comments regardless of if they were positive or negative will count towards the ‘people talking about’ score

New Facebook Timeline

Zuckerberg announced last week the redesign of timeline profile pages. The idea appears to be that you track your ‘entire life’ on Facebook – including when you were born (creepily Facebook ask you to upload a picture of your birth), when your siblings were born and all the major events in your life. Because we weren’t tied to Facebook enough as it was…

In line with this, Facebook are launching an ‘Add to timeline’ button which users will click to share things (instead of the usual ‘like’ button). According to Facebook this will make it even easier for users by automatically sharing what they’ve been doing on Facebook connected apps. They call this new auto sharing functionality ‘facebook gestures’.

Now I don’t know about you – but I don’t think I want Facebook automatically sharing anything without my consent. What this means is that if I were to click ‘add to timeline’ on a national news site application for example, then Facebook could automatically share any of the articles that I looked at from that point in time… so unless you want everyone knowing exactly what you’re up to (without you even knowing it) then I’d imagine this new functionality could catch out a few Facebook users unaware.

The thing that gets me with this is that there’s no notification to Facebook users about these changes. Unless you’re a tech-savvy nerd geek and noticed Zuckerbergs announcement last week then you’ll be blissfully unaware that you could be about to air your dirty laundry.

I think Facebook need to be careful here. While initially the thought of users extending their sharing habits appeals to me as a WoM marketeer – I don’t want to abuse users by sneakily sharing things behind their backs.

It will be interesting to see how users respond to these changes. Let’s just hope that Facebook aren’t about to start burning bridges with their user base. We know that last month was the first time we saw a decline in Facebook users… could this be the start of a downhill struggle for Facebook? We’ll have to wait and see…

In the meantime I strongly advise checking your privacy settings and thinking twice before you hit the ‘add to timeline’ button!


Zoe Boalch

About Zoe Boalch

Zoë Boalch is co-founder of Contagious Agency. Zoë likes: hot chili, yoga, learning new stuff, positive people, taking risks Zoë dislikes: naysayers, grumpy people, rather large egos
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