Facebook: Users love it, hate it and condemn it, but we stay. Why? Believe it or not, Facebook is committed to making a user-friendly platform, striving to tailor its network to deliver everything you want in a methodical, convenient manner.
Sure, Facebook wants to make money in the process, but it understands the way we as consumers think, shop and spend our time. So, how does Facebook do it?
The early years
Remember the days when Facebook was used for creeping on the cutie in your anatomy class? We logged on to change our profile pics and scope the new freshman class that would be roaming campus along with us. You could post a picture on your profile page or write a status, never knowing who would see it and if anyone would ever grace your page with their witty response. Facebook was a personal bubble used for putting a name with a face and keeping up with friends, both new and old. But we wanted more.
That’s when marketing came to Facebook. Remember when fan pages came into play? Facebook was no longer just a tool to stay connected to friends; it became a way to connect with your favorite brands, celebrities and organizations. Social media put power back in the hands of the people, allowing us to take our thoughts, complaints and praises directly to the brand. It opened an avenue of communication that changed the way people made shopping decisions, shared information and interacted online.
Bridging the gap for the consumer and brand relationship also made way for a new feature that would forever change the way we use Facebook. Enter the ever-present, ever-evolving News Feed. The News Feed was, for many, a pain point in the beginning; the new setup constantly flooded our main pages with lackluster statuses and over-the-top marketing ploys. As the News Feed evolved, Facebook worked to make it user-friendly, while still making way for a marketer’s playground.
Ads have become ever-present and increasingly targeted. Marketers are able to aim campaigns at specific groups of people who are not only interested in the brand itself, but are also interested in what the brand is offering. Knowing your target market has become increasingly important, as Facebook makes it possible to focus ads towards the interests of its users. On the flip side, users are delivered ads that reflect what they talk about, their interests and their interactions. Facebook knows ads that don’t pertain to users will remain untouched. Irrelevant ads make users angry and don’t make anyone money. Targeting has become the key factor in this formula.
Sponsored stories have also entered the game as an increasingly important aspect of the News Feed. It’s no longer just marketers who have the power to promote their own content. Marketers, bloggers and users alike have the ability to promote their own posts to a targeted audience or to their followers and friends. Whether a brand wants to promote a story or a food blogger wants to promote a new recipe, this feature allows everyone to reach more readers.
Most recently, Facebook rolled out Graph Search and has been working to develop an algorithm that will deliver information most relevant to the user in a logical manner. The latest algorithm change for the News Feed introduced Story Bumping, Last Actor and Chronological Actor. So how do these formulas work?
Graph Search is really just a tool to search the Internet and Facebook from the platform itself. You can find friends with similar interests, restaurants your friends like and other things your friends might recommend. It’s also connected to Microsoft’s search engine Bing, allowing you to search the Internet from your Facebook News Feed. Who needs to leave Facebook when you have everything you need within the platform?
Story Bumping allows users to constantly have new stories at their fingertips. When a user reads a story in their News Feed, newer stories are bumped up in their feed to avoid seeing the same stories every time you login. In addition, last actor and chronological actor bump friends and brands that you’ve interacted with recently to the top of your News Feed in sequential order. Facebook wants to make sure that users are seeing what they want to see, when they want to see it.
In other words, if you’re not creating content and posts that are enticing interaction, you may get lost in the mix. Facebook is becoming increasingly aware of what users like and what creates engagement. The social network’s end goal is to create a platform that has everything you need in one place. It may not have it down just yet, but its commitment to creating a user friendly all-in-one platform is what keeps people intrigued.
Who can be bored with a platform that is constantly evolving? Facebook has given us the power to stay connected with friends and acquaintances that we haven’t talked to in years. It allows us to voice opinions of brands publicly, whether good, bad or ugly. And it delivers tailored information to us with the click of a button. While we may complain endlessly about the always changing platform, we find it hard to rip ourselves away from the connections it affords us. Facebook has been so successful at captivating us over the years; it’s hard not to be tuned in for what comes next.