It has been a while since my Facebook news feed has turned into a wall of App-spam, thanks to zillions of Facebook apps that exist for whatever god damned reason. From “yearly recap calendars” to “what your name says about you” to “estimated profile views”, my news feed is always struggling to stay clean. Blocking posts from junk apps has become my daily routine but since habit is man’s second nature, I have become used to this environment. Well, everyone is.
Then of course, Facebook rolled out timelines and the noisy news ticker on the right. The self updating ticker is like a never ending storyboard of what your friends are doing right this instant. This includes real time notifications of whatever actions my friends take e.g commenting on someone’s photo I am not friends with, reading an article on some social reader app or playing Bingo blitz all day long.
Now here is another twist in the tale. Facebook has officially announced the launch of open graph applications, which will allow people to express more precisely what they are doing, how they are interacting with an application, business or a fan page. This change, takes user actions to a whole new level and miles apart from only “Likes” and “comments”
Here is how Timeline apps work on Facebook timeline and news feed.
Every application developer can now define a “verb” within his app, which is a way of broadcasting the user’s “action”. “Mr X read an article in ABC social reader” – here read is the verb and it will be broadcasted only when Mr. X has started reading the article using that application. “Mr Y is listening to the ABC song on domain.com” – here “listen” is the verb; you can click on the live notification to land on that same website and listen to that song right away. The following video briefly illustrates how Timeline apps are made to work:
I must say, this is better than just a mere “Like”. More engagement, more reach and more precise nature of “online broadcasting”.
Here is Where Background Sharing Might Get Worse For The Novice User
When you hit “Like” on any webpage, you know that this is going to be broadcasted on your Facebook profile. 200%. Hence, you double check the content and then hit the “Like” button.
But with timeline apps, everything rolls on its own. Your activities and actions are automatically broadcasted and your friends will know your actions right from that news ticker. For example, you spot one of your friend using a video sharing app. You click the app, grant all the permissions, finish watching a crazy viral video and leave. So far, so good.
The next time you attempt to watch another video, it will be broadcasted automatically. “Mr X just watched a video on ABC video app”. There are chances that the video you’re watching might be obscene or vulgar but there is no way to stop the broadcast. The moment you perform an action, the trigger is pressed and there it goes on the news ticker and eventually on your timeline.
Of course you can review application permissions but considering all those novice Facebook friends you have, this is going to invite a boat load of embarrassment. Until they educate themselves how to block Facebook applications and review confusing application permissions, expect the news ticker and individual timelines to explode with recurring activities.
The confirmatory nature of sharing and broadcasting is fading away. FYI, these timeline apps can track your behavior and broadcast it, even when you’re not logged into your Facebook account. So before you jump into Timeline apps, review application requests and double check what they will be posting on your timeline.
Now what happens if a user adding a Timeline app hasn’t got Facebook Timeline yet? The short answer is that everyone will soon be switched to Facebook timelines anyway.
The Advertising Aspect Of Facebook Actions
I have strong reasons to believe that this roll out is Facebook’s core strategy to help marketers, business and brands engage more deeply with their users and audience. Businesses need a “Viral trigger” and there are situations when a mere “Like” is just not enough. The words read, cook, listen, played …….have a strong emotional hook, which causes an emotional drive in the user’s mind and makes him “CLICK”.
I agree with Jolie and Dean on this
Facebook can take your information and mine it for useful nuggets. It can give you back statistical information about your behavior that you didn’t know about. If there was any doubt that Facebook is a data mining company with a lot of ‘big data,’ that ended today.
This is going to be a gold rush for marketers who want more conversions through advertising campaigns on Facebook. Facebook’s ad system (also known as action spec) which focuses on timeline apps, would allow businesses and app owners to pick more users on their radar. It is easy to convince someone to buy a particular product, if they see their friend’s name over it.
For media and entertainment companies, it is going to be easy to hand pick new consumers through the “Watch” and “Listen” action triggers. Furthermore, these businesses may run dry ad campaigns to see which of your friends buys the latest DVD of XYZ artist, they have the data – you listened to three dozen songs of the same artist last week.
This is indeed a win win situation for marketers, developers and Facebook itself. Timeline apps will drive more engagement, which will result in more conversions. More conversions will drive more user goodwill and developers will be more keen to devise action driven apps.
Personally, I like the idea. It is great for engagement and discovery but considering the number of novice Facebook users and garbage apps lying all over the Internet, the noise to signal ratio might just fall even further.