Chana Hercenberg
Since the first posting of this series, (to read the full Part I of this series, click here,) Facebook has made some surprisingly quick changes to their homepage design.

In the first series of this article, I discussed how I mentioned to Facebook at the SESNY (Search Engine Strategies Conference in New York) that their desire to hone in on Twitter's current market, actually left them in a position where they were lessening the deeper level of social networking they had been offering their users.

Within two days of my comments, I am happy to publicly announce that Facebook started adding back some of the updates they had previously removed in their status feeds on the Home Page. Whereas they had previously removed most of the feeds, other than the 140 status update, they started to add back in other updates.

You can tell they are coding feverishly and trying new changes "on the fly", because each day I sign in there are new updated changes. One day, the homepage feed is moved up closer to the top of the page, the next day the advert box on the home page has been enlarged. They are clearly testing (perhaps even A/B Testing - for those unfamiliar with the term, it is a process where marketers test different models on unsuspecting viewers and measure the responses to gauge the best results. So, like viewer A would see one view of your website and viewer B would see another. After tracking the results of how multiple viewers interact with the different pages, you can see which variables work the best.) So, getting back, Facebook is clearly trying to figure out the best model. Right now, they are not there, but I have confidence in them, yet. I think they will get it. As a user, I would be quite happy if they contacted me for more feedback, because their current changes need some serious tweeking, to be better optimized for user experience.

Facebook is clearly trying to be ahead of the game with social media monetization. Increasing ad sizes, adding the number of ads per page, and hosting a free call to all marketers and businesses at SESNY to start using their ad model. They continue to also post ads on Facebook for businesses to market there.

As a way to get businesses to start marketing with them, they also offered a free $50 credit to us all. This I clearly liked ;).

I think I am one of the first marketers who was using Facebook ads with success. I talked to a friend of mine who works for Google about a year and a half ago who thought the ad model was useless on Facebook, and that marketers were not using it. Personally, I have found it to be quite successful.

Have you tried it? What were your results?
Chana Hercenberg
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Chana Hercenberg
Facebook recently rolled out a new updated version of their social networking layout.

Let's look at one of the major changes they made a little more closely, in order to get a better understanding of what Facebook was attempting to accomplish, as well as a prediction of whether Facebook will indeed accomplish these goals.

The way it was:
Users used to sign in and see when a friend was tagged on an interesting note, the events their friends were going to, and the other friends they had connected with, etc.

The way it is:
When signing in on the homepage, users now only see the main featured status feed. The status feed is a one to two line update that their friend manually wrote in to update with information about themself, rather than a collated list of information about the actions their friends have recently taken.

Alongside that status feed, Facebook has allowed their users to still be able to see a few of the actions taken, but only a select few. The new area where the actions are listed, are on the right hand side of the homepage, as well as on another deeper link that shows recent notes.

What difference has this all made?

The overall sense of networking and community that Facebook created, by keeping friends involved and connected with their friends, through showing them what others were doing, has been decreased.

When a user used to be able to see the events, notes and friends their friends were involved with, they often wanted to join in the fun. It was a great way to find out what was going on. Now, they have to scroll through all of their friend's pages on a regular basis to see the same synopsis of information. For some people, that can be looking through upwards of 400 to 500 friends to find out a few highlights of what is going on.

Over 1 million members voiced their upset at the changes Facebook made recently, within 2 days of the changes.

So, why did Facebook move the placement of the status update feed to front and center? Why did they think there would be a benefit in showing a feed that only lists the status update?

Facebook's new initiative looks incredibly similar to the all new ever popular Twitter. Twitter is a microblogging website which allows it's users to publish one line of information at up to 140 characters per posting. It has been growing it's membership at a feverish pace, and has become an extremely popular method for people to stay aware of current breaking news around the world, share ideas, jobs and to meet new people who are sharing information in an easy and quick way. Some people have even started contests and giveaways. There are even some members who have upwards of twenty to fourty thousand people following their news updates. That's a lot of influence.

I have seen the success of Twitter personally, when after only close to 2 months on it, I have a following of more than 1,000 people including most of the top advertising agencies and news media outlets around the world, as well as large businesses like Verisign, Webtrends, Zappos and Starbucks. I have had conversations with people I consider gurus like Eric Peterson, who has recently found Twitter to be so important, that he developed a completely new way to measure a user's social media networking success on Twitter at Twitalyzer.

The Twitter concept allows you to share bits of information about yourself or your interests, and people read your current updated news status. It's easy, it's simple, it's quick and unlike Facebook, it does not involve as much personal information, so it demands the need for less privacy.

Facebook and Twitter currently serve two seperate purposes. Facebook allows people to share personal information with a select number of people, and therefore to engage on a deeper personal level with their network. Twitter allows people to begin connections by displaying their knowledge to a larger network.

If Facebook really wants a piece of the action that Twitter currently has, they will need to come up with some innovative solutions to simplify the process of privacy controls on select areas of the users profile along with a better search/display process that cuts out the personalized information. Even that, may create too many actions for their users to take.

From the conversations I had yesterday with Facebook at the Search Engine Strategies Conference here in NY, it seems they realize that at least for now they need to switch back. Let's see how fast they can make this change? Coding does take time, after all.

In the meantime, Twitter has been enjoying some amazing growth and success, at least in terms of the number of viewers they have brought together. We will post some future posts oulaying some of the changes Twitter should be making to enjoy a higher level of success as well.



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