Last Thursday Mark Zuckerberg and friends hosted his fifth Facebook F8 Conference, the annual meeting of today’s most glamorous technorati where the Zuckster announces all the big changes we’ll be seeing on Facebook in the coming year. A few days prior to F8 you probably found yourself disoriented/confused/annoyed when you logged onto Facebook and saw that the brilliant minds over at FB, Inc. had once again decided to muss up your newsfeed without even having the decency to consult you about it or give you any sort of real control over it at all. What is this sudden clutter, you asked yourself, what in god’s name is this ticker on the side of the page, what the hell is the difference between a “top story” and a “recent” one and how could Facebook possibly determine which stories are which for me? I don’t have answers to any of those questions for you, some things will forever remain mysteries, but one thing I do know is that, between these updates and the announcements made at F8, Zuck and Co. aim to get you on Facebook, keep you there for as long as possible, and draw as much information from your usage patterns as they possibly can.
Will this newest iteration of Facebook be good for your blog? At risk of sounding a little paranoid, I’d say no; I’d say that the newest version of Facebook won’t be particularly good for anyone other than Facebook and all of their new partners (Netflix, Spotify, and Hulu, among other media giants). The so-obvious-it-doesn’t-need-to-be-said reason for this: the more time that Facebook gets people to stay on Facebook, the less time people will be on your blog. And that’s what this new Facebook is all about: time, and Zucko streamlining your online decision making process so that you spend as much of your time on his site as possible. Once all of these new updates are up and running the great majority of people will never find a reason to leave Facebook, and why should they? Spotify is there, Rhapsody is there, Neflix and Hulu are there; all of the media that we scavenge the internet for will now all be found in one place. As of yet Facebook has not announced any changes to their fan pages so I’m curious to see whether they’ll remain the same (in which case I’d suspect that they will be relegated to the sort of backwaters of Facebook) or if they’ll also adopt the new Timeline feature, in which case the whole point is that people will log onto your fan page and stay there as long as possible, as opposed to moving on to your blog itself.
The two big issues here are the new Timeline feature and all of Facebook’s new media partners, as I mentioned above. If you haven’t heard about it yet, the Timeline is basically a highly advanced version of what used to be your Wall. It will contain every status update you’ve ever made and you will be allowed to add important events from your life to it, turning your personal Timeline into both a veritable treasure trove of free information for Facebook and a sort of personal blog that covers your entire life. The Timeline, in conjunction with the new 5000 character status update limit, means that people will be spending much more time actually writing on FB as opposed to just yelling from a hilltop about what they did that that day or posting lyrics from a Chris Brown song. I predict that the Timeline will look much more like an actual blog than like your old Facebook Wall.
I’d be wary, watch how all of the new changes pan out. If FB, Inc. implements the same changes that they’re making to profiles into the Fan Pages then I think it’s going to become increasingly difficult to drive traffic away from Facebook and towards your blog. In any event, Facebook has responded very strongly to Twitter and Google+ and their response is clear: they want as much internet real estate as they can possibly grab and they want you there with them.