I am always interested to see how people will react when a major change hits the social media scene. Will they rush to join the latest new platform (such as Google+) and predict it will crush Facebook before it even gets out of the gate? Will people complain for weeks and weeks about the change from the old Twitter to the New Twitter? And will they moan about these changes as if the world will never be the same (until they forget and move onto the next thing)? Yes! Opinions like these are often shared by social media laymen and the top of the technological sphere. Change can be challenging and when it affects millions of people it can cause unhappiness, to say the least. And of course, whenever Facebook makes a change the predictions, complaints, and discussion rear up right away. People threaten to leave, predict the doom of Facebook and whine and whine and whine. …Which of course is what happened last week when Facebook announced their latest set of changes at the f8 Developer Conference (yes, they have a conference just for Facebook developers). These changes weren’t just tweaks—they included a major overhaul of the look, feel and function of the profile page. I read comment after comment about the changes on a SocialMouths blog post titled: “This Is How The Facebook Timeline Will Look Like. Say Goodbye To Your Profile“. Or, I should say “complaint after complaint.” Most of these comments were negative, doom and gloom—“the world is coming to end and Facebook will fail and I am going to Google+ and my friends are leaving and what about my privacy settings?!” Come on people! Being so absorbed in a free social networking platform changing things up is the epitome of “First World Problems.” In 2011, is it really that shocking that a technology-based service is going to change things frequently? Aren’t we accustomed to that by now? All these predictions of the “End of Facebook” are a bit much. There’s no way to know until we have a chance to try it. That said, what’s the biggest change? Facebook introduced Timelines, which will document your life very closely. This isn’t just what you are doing today—it’s how you got there. This all happens in a series of photos, videos, posts, etc. with smart algorithms that will “pull” the most important stuff for your page. But it will also allow you to listen to music through Spotify, catch up on TV via Hulu and watch movies on Netflix. Personally, I have always been a passive Facebook user. My attitude is much like that of Chris Davis of SlashGear, who writes in his blog post “Facebook Timeline and the Cult of Me”:
“I use Twitter and Google+ more than I do Facebook because they’re about a conversation, not a slide-show. Paging through your galleries—whether they’re of your weekend clubbing or your 5th birthday—isn’t of much interest to me; I’d far rather talk about what you did, find common ground and the places we agree to disagree. Show me a link to something that excites or intrigues you, not yet another video clip of graduates flinging their caps in the air.”
(I’m not a big Google+ fan yet. It’s intriguing and I am watching it with interest, and I can see it may be more conversation-driven than Facebook. Still, Google+ is barely out of its infancy, so as of right now I say “we will see.”) For the masses, Davis is right on when he states:
“Is Facebook’s new Timeline feature right for the market? When it comes to the self-obsessed ‘brand me’ zeitgeist, yes, certainly. Over-sharing is big business now, and Timeline means everyone who cares to can now curate his or her own, personal Wikipedia page. We needn’t even keep to those pesky editorial guidelines: Facebook has sensibly made sure that we can pick and choose what’s public and what isn’t, portraying ourselves in the very best way possible.”
With Timeline, our personal profiles can become even more of a shrine to ourselves—the very thing that people are complaining about will be the thing that draws many people into the new Facebook platform. After all, we all have egos. Again, I don’t consider myself Facebook-obsessed and don’t spend time on my personal profile that could instead be spent with my clients’ pages. That said, the recent changes mean I will invest in my own profile, as I like to look at pictures of my kids, family and dogs—and, yes, sometimes you will catch me paging through your past umpteen years of pictures. The era of over-sharing has just begun and Facebook has hit the target. So what’s my prediction? People will continue to complain, whine and moan as the new Facebook changes roll out to the public. There will be mixed opinion, but in the end, I do not see it denting Facebook’s 800 million users. It may even reach out to the people who have yet to really get social. And a few months after the changes have been implemented, most people will forget they even happened. Later this week I will rant about privacy, Facebook and cookies…yes, I have an opinion. You won’t want to miss it, sign up now to get all the SocialNicole blog posts sent to your email.