If you caught "60 Minutes" last night on CBS, you saw Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg talking about -- while simultaneously launching -- new changes to the social network's interface. Such is the power of Facebook: getting "60 Minutes" to agree to be the launch pad for an upgrade to your company's main product is rare, if not unprecedented.
If you haven't logged on and made the switch yet, when you do you'll find you have a new profile page that highlights a number of things about you right up top: recent photos that you're tagged in, and, of course, posts to your wall. The nav in the left rail is also simpler and a little more intuitive. (Judging by the overwhelming number of negative comments on the blog post announcing the change, people aren't loving the new interface, predictably.)
What's most interesting to me about the changes is the degree to which career, and to a lesser extent education, is highlighted. In addition to listing your jobs, including company name, job title, the time you served and a brief description of your work responsibilities, you're now able to add projects you've worked on. You can also include the people who've worked with you on those projects. (It makes me wonder if LinkedIn should be worried.)
While the company name links to the Facebook Page for that brand, names you add to the projects you've worked on who are also your Facebook friends seem to link to their Facebook profile. By encouraging us to provide this finer grain of detail in our Facebook profiles, we are, of course, giving up further information about what we do at work and the folks we do it with. We're already declaring what we do out in the world and with whom via Facebook Places. Now we can add all our work activities.
All this should be a boon to the Facebook advertising algorithm, making the targeting of ads more accurate and relevant. Moreover, the opportunity to cross-promote to friends who share your work or interests (as evidenced by the projects you work on together or the things you do together out in the world) must be around the corner if it isn't happening already.
Of course, Facebook will not talk in specifics about this stuff, so it's all supposition on my part. Company strategists won't talk about it because of the privacy issues that inevitably come up every time there's a new change. Facebook already knows a lot about us, and now it will know more. It's not a stretch to guess this will all accrue to the benefit of brands / advertisers, and Facebook's bottom line.
Another advantage these Facebook changes provide for brands is the evangelism their people provide simply by declaring where they've worked -- and, over time, the projects they've contributed to. As more and more employees align themselves with brands, and as the brands themselves optimize their Web sites for the Facebook "Like-o-sphere," there will, inevitably, be ways to further triangulate relationships, interests and spheres of influence.
For instance: Say I work at Brand X, and I've contributed to the launch of a hot new product. I've declared on Facebook that I work at that brand, that I was part of the team that led the launch, and which of those team members rises to the level of my friend on Facebook. As folks check out what I'm declaring, visit my brand's Facebook Page, visit that brand's Web site, and maybe even purchase the hot new product, someone at that brand should be able (eventually) to triangulate who the key influencer of that purchase was.
That information is gold.
At any rate, it seems the need to optimize a company's Web site for, and presence on, Facebook is growing daily. In case you need reminding, SEO remains as important as ever, but it's not the only game in town any longer. Oh: and your employees? (Each and every one of them.) They're now your new PR agency, a key driver of traffic to your Web site, and among the best influencers of purchases of your products and services.
Treat them well.
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