Just days ahead of the F8 Developer Conference, Facebook has rolled out a handful of design changes and new features. Here are a few highlights:
The biggest and most-controversial change is the Live Ticker, which displays a real-time stream of your friend’s latest actions. You can click on any of the stories in the feed, and quickly comment on it without leaving the page. Facebook’s goal is to increase engagement and retention on the site. However, many users are complaining about the seemingly repetitive nature of seeing a Facebook feed inside a Facebook feed.
Facebook is now using a new algorithm to dig-up content it thinks worthy of your attention. Also, Top Stories are no longer shown in chronological order – but rather in order of importance. So if you haven’t logged in for a while, it’s possible you’ll see older content at the top of your wall (with Facebook figuring that this content is more relevant). Facebook engineer Mark Tonkelowit summed it up this way in a recent blog post:
“Now, News Feed will act more like your own personal newspaper. You won’t have to worry about missing important stuff. All your news will be in a single stream with the most interesting stories featured at the top. If you haven’t visited Facebook for a while, the first things you’ll see are top photos and statuses posted while you’ve been away. They’re marked with an easy-to-spot blue corner.”
Smart Lists where originally released in mid September, but the new design makes them a bit easier to manage. The idea is to organize friends into lists based on relationships (or any other categorization you want). This lets you selectively post updates to just certain friends. To get you started Facebook automatically creates lists for you, such as people living near you, fellow classmates, or coworkers. So, you now have more control when posting photos of your Saturday night keg stand.
Increased character limits
Previously there was a 500 character limit for any Facebook post. Today you post up to 5,000 characters. Part of this change is a direct response to the rise of microblogging platforms, like Tumblr and Posterous. Now with mores space for waxing poetic and deeper discussions, Facebook hopes to keep you engaged on the site for even longer.
The subscribe button lets people who are not friends get your updates anyway. This makes most sense for public figures or business leaders who want to publish, but don’t want to add total strangers as friends. Facebook hopes this feature will add a Twitter-like engagement with people in the news.
Fan Page changes
Although major changes are rumored to be coming soon to Fan Pages, this redesign includes only one minty-fresh feature: the Friend Activity tab. It’s a tab that goes on the pages of retailers and companies and such, letting you see all of your friends’ interactions with that brand.
First Pluto, now this.
Two scientists from the Museum of the Rockies believe that the Triceratops is merely the juvenile form of Torosaurus. As the animal aged, its horns changed shape and orientation.
Well, the designers here at Mojave weren’t going to let their childhood memories go that easily. We are fighting back with our own line of t-shirts, available at CafePress. Get yours and let’s take back our childhood.
Oh yeah, we still call Pluto a planet, so bite us, IAU.
Facebook’s reach continues to grow as popular web destinations open their doors (and users) to the Facebook Open Graph API. While companies like Pandora and Yelp have developed custom API integrations, other sites like BuzzFeed and Levi’s are testing the waters with more simple, streamlined methods of implementation with the help of Facebook’s Social Plugins. These plugins are easy to add to any site (since they’re just one line of HTML) and bring sociability to every corner of the interweb. Here are a few great implementation examples of Facebook Plugins from some popular online destinations:
Levi’s has implemented the like button across it’s entire product line on the website. Users are able to ‘like’ a specific product and add a comment, which then posts an update to their Facebook feed. This also gives insight to the most popular products based on the number of times that product has been ‘liked’ by their customers.
Get the Like Button code.
JibJab’s Facebook login allows users to easily authenticate using their existing Facebook login. No creating new user names and passwords, simply connect using Facebook. By doing so, JibJab is able to pull in photos from your existing Facebook galleries for use in creating and personalizing your JibJab project.
Get the Login Button code.
One of the many Facebook features that BuzzFeed has instilled in their site is the commenting system. Once again, you are able to use Facebook credentials to sign in to post a comment. Of course, the comments are then fed back to the user’s Facebook feed, where all their friends are able to see the interaction.
Get the Facebook Comments code.
CNN.com does a wonderful job at showcasing the activity of your friends’ interactions with their website. See what your own network is reading about and perhaps you’ll find more than just mainstream headlines.
Get the Activity Feed code.
Jonas Brothers’ Facebook Page (via UStream.com)
See exactly what your friends and other fans of The Jonas Brothers are up to with this awesome example of the Facebook Live Stream. This is a great way to connect with new people who share a common interest.
Get the Live Stream code.
A couple of days ago, Twitter launched @EarlyBird, a social shopping service that works with select advertisers. With it, Twitter is positioning itself as a new consumer destination for exclusive and time sensitive deals. Like Woot, Groupon and other social shopping sites, Twitter earns money by taking a portion of the sale revenue in exchange for the promotion. Despite not posting a single deal, @EarlyBird already has nearly 15,000 followers.
To view the deals, all you have to do is follow the @EarlyBird account via Twitter, but you may see the deals if someone you already follow ReTweets a deal. At launch, offers will only be available to US customers, but Twitter hasn’t eliminated the option to expand internationally. We expect local city deals to launch in the future as well.
For businesses looking to promote a deal, the details are still lacking at this point. Twitter has selected its initial partners and are not disclosing their commissions or fees. We expect a more formal business sign-up process in the near future, but for now Twitter is open to suggestions. If you’ve got one, you can direct message @EarlyBird.
This new endeavor marks a notable attempt for Twitter creating a revenue stream and taking social shopping head-on. Depending on consumer response, we may see Twitter build out even more shopping verticals and hyper-local offers.