Facebook Launches Timeline and Expansion of Open Graph

Yesterday, much talked about Facebook Developer’s Conference F8 took place in San Fransisco. It was a much talked about event and it seemed Facebook had something big to announce which would forever change the face internet and I feel as usual the social giant was quite impressive! We were following it quite closely.

Following is a sum up of the announcements:

Announcement of new profile design: Timeline

Earlier, the way old profile worked was that 99% of the stories you share vanish. The only way to find the posts that matter is to click “Older Posts” at the bottom of the page.

With Timeline, now you have a home for all the great stories you’ve already shared. They don’t just vanish as you add new stuff. Timeline is wider than your old profile, and it’s a visual treat.

As you scroll down past your cover (a giant cover photo on top), you’ll see your posts, photos and life events as they happened in time. You choose what’s featured on your timeline. You can start your favorites to double their size or hide things altogether.

The new Timeline will be rolled out for users during the following weeks.

Expansion of the Open Graphs

First there was the Social Graph, then the Open Graph last year that consisted of plugins allowing users to Like or Recommend things across the web. The next step for Facebook is to allow verbs in the graph so you for instance not only like a film, but can actually watch a film or listen to a song etc. With this new development, Facebook also introduces a whole new class of social apps that lets you show the different things you do in your timeline – the music you listen to, the runs to take, the food you prepare and so on.

All of these different activities you do is what Facebook calls light weight activities and are designed to be featured in your ticker. This way you can keep track of what your friends are doing in realtime.

The new Open Graph also means that developers can build apps that will allow users to share what they are doing. The different kinds of apps to be built on the platform is divided into four different categories: Communication, Games, Media and Lifestyle. This more or less enables us to connect everything to Facebook and makes Facebook a one-stop shop for all activities, also in real time.

Apps built in the Lifestyle category will for instance allow users to share what food they cook, where they run etc to express who you are as a person. Users can then choose to post pieces of data to their timeline.

What does it mean for brands?

Now brands get a chance to develop their own apps to capture different lifestyle areas of customers. For instance you will see your friends drinking a Coca-Cola or shopping at Zappos.com.

In short, the ability to publish things to your stream has changed, and it will no longer require a popup box. The new graph should, according to Zuckerberg, find interesting patterns between actions, so that those patterns can be displayed on your news feed.

So far Facebook is launching a number of new apps with a long list of partners.

F8 live

Instagram’s New Algorithm – What You Need to Know

IMG_8423Nearly 6 years after its initial release and 400 million users later, Instagram is fast-approaching the ad-supported dominance of Facebook. Last week, it introduced its very own algorithm, following in the footsteps of Twitter and its parent company Facebook. Whether this is an enhancement is debatable and many seem to be divided on the matter as it stands. It begins with co-founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom explaining that “on average, people miss about 70% of the posts in their Instagram feed”, which may be alarming to some.

 

Twitter jumped onto the algorithm bandwagon only last month and has received its own amount of backlash from it. The fear that it will destroy live-tweeting and the key reason people love twitter is amongst the concerns. Of course, users tend to prefer what they’re used to on social networks and aren’t very welcoming to change, so this may pass.

Facebook’s introduction of its algorithm, which was due to extraordinary growth, was a much-needed overhaul of the News Feed. The fact that Facebook is bigger than the largest country on earth makes it almost essential for it to filter out unwanted posts and let its users receive the most relevant content. The question now is, does Instagram need it too?

Facebook Instant Articles was also released last year, which is a great way for Facebook to avoid the standard embedded browser mechanics that so many apps rely on. This allows users to view news more fluently by delivering a more native user experience. It also coincided with the release of the Apple News app, which has recently opened its doors to all publishers. The fact that developers are now realising the public’s thirst for news makes things extremely well-timed for the ever-growing amount of algorithms social is seeing. We need news, whether it be world news or friend news, and we need it fast – even if we missed it being posted.

 

What This Means for Brands

From a brand perspective, it is unquestionably going to become more complicated to market on Instagram. There are many visual-based brands that invest a great deal of money into Instagram to be able to reach a specific audience or age group. One example is brands paying influencers to promote their product, which has ultimately made it possible for those influencers to make a living by monetising their audience on the platform. This is achieved with a combination of brand sponsorships from companies, product promotion and follower reach. So how will it affect their livelihood? Companies will be much more demanding when it comes to requesting the influencer’s actual reach once it’s available, which will very likely decrease the amount that influencers are paid. This, in translation, means that influencers could ultimately be forced to take a pay cut with the introduction of this algorithm.

In layman’s terms, brands will be required to pay for their posts to reach their fans. This is especially true if the posts have little engagement, which exactly replicates Facebook’s model as Instagram takes its big brother’s handy advice. A key question here is, will the quality of posts increase due to content ‘needing’ engagement to push through?

Additionally, until now, brands have been supplied with little to no data on their Instagram channels. With this algorithm and a clear business objective from Facebook to increase ad turnover on Instagram, the company knows that advertisers expect something in return. The exchange is a classic eyeballs and actions for paid budgets and to prove delivery of reach and actions, Facebook will need to provide data and show that brands are getting their money’s worth.

 

Implications & Considerations

As general guidance, it may be efficient to stop thinking about news feeds as stories. A profile is a story and will probably always remain that way, but a news feed is a different beast altogether. With the algorithm, your followers might see some of your posts in their feed but far from all, making feed storytelling pretty much impossible. The challenge is to create a valuable brand presence on social that is recognizable without the context of other content.

Another discussion point is how Instagram profiles compare to Facebook profiles for brands. Facebook Pages made it easier to separate personal and brand pages, but Instagram has yet to do such a thing. Will we see something similar in the future? If so, it is sure to bring a great deal more features from Facebook to Instagram, which is undeniably the path we’re on with the two companies. Another thing to start considering is whether Instagram will eventually suppress almost all organic ads, like Facebook does. After all, having an algorithm like this can undeniably camouflage the real reason followers are missing so many posts.

Overall, Instagram is rapidly growing to greater capacities, users are posting more and we ultimately live in an algorithmic world as far as social is concerned. And as Instagram ads are managed through Facebook, they are extremely easy to target to a specific audience, which appealingly makes use of Facebook’s limitless data. These will undoubtedly merge together to form one giant supply of data and algorithms will most likely do the same. So it could be Facebook’s existing model that Instagram slowly turns into. Simply put, like father, like son.