Facebook Timeline Rollout Begins

Back in September at the f8 conference, Facebook announced the timeline – a nearly total overhaul to profiles that paved the way for streaming updates like Spofity’s what’s playing and Netflix’s what are you watching apps. While many people have manually signed up to access their own timeline, the timeline feature has remained in a developer only Beta.

Tonight Facebook announced the start of a progressive rollout – New Zealand is up first.

Since the announcement I’ve stated that timeline would be a major game changer for brand & website integrations offering the opportunity for those with real interest & value the chance to up their exposure. But that’s just my $0.02…

Have you enabled the timeline features so far?

Have you started development or built an app?

What future do you see for it with your site? For the larger web?

To be honest, I haven’t tried it but I find amusing the comments at the end of the blog. It seems that many people from those who expressed their opinion don’t like it.

Since it will not be available for me just yet I’ll guess I’ll need to first try first and see if it is any good.

If you sign up as a developer [free] you can have it right now. It’s a hack but apparently millions have already jumped in and gone that route… and who knows, maybe you’ll find a reason to develop a few things while you’re at it.

I’ve heard so much negative about it that I’m sort of scared to try it. Honestly, I wish someone would tell Facebook, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It seems to me that they often make “improvements” that backfire, but maybe I’m just getting old and cranky.

I guess I sit on the other side of the fence… If I click over to a friend’s profile it’s far more interesting to see snapshots and highlights of the last few years than to only see the 10 most recent and generally very minor posts. The system is far from perfect in how it highlights but at the same time pretty amazing. I’ve seen it sort out events to match a photo that I never tagged, group together weddings, trips, and make those all much more comprehensive.

Of course as with all their changes, privacy becomes a big issue and I’ve certainly gone through my timeline and removed stuff that just didn’t have any value being up there.

But that’s from a user side, from a brand / developer perspective, timeline opens a big door to getting into someone’s profile IF there’s affinity. Whether it’s streaming your favorite songs automatically or sharing a few gifts over the holidays from a trusted retailer there’s a huge attachment opportunity. At the same time the trends of forcing a share and gimmicks to get into a news feed are reduced down as persistent items become more visible than one offs.

I guess it’s the privacy issue that concerns me. Lately I am seeing a trend towards Facebook becoming more and more commercial. The timeline may be a good thing for businesses, but I think maybe more of a headache than it’s worth to the consumers those businesses depend upon.

I realize I’m not the typical user having developed apps and all but I see timeline as a step forward for taking control by those who want it. Most people won’t do the work to prune but right now if you want to remote a post from 2009, good luck scrolling back. With timeline you click 2009 and can clear half the stuff off in 5 minutes. Yes Facebook groups photos and checkins, but it’s what you already shared, and now you can see it to unshare it so while people will write stories about the girlfriend who sees the ex and throws a fit, you left it up there, not them.

The same is true with brands: right now everything a business does gets fairly serious on your outgoing feed to your friends and your wall, with the ticker most interactions from brands are moved well away from your friends feed and those that are a constant part of your sharing get a defined “box” on your profile to stay within rather than appearing all over the place. If you’re a brand, Facebook is making it that much more important to have fans who actually care about using your app and page on a recurring basis… just pushing a contest invite out won’t get you seen nearly as well.

I doubt that Facebook built this to grow business visibility, it’s really much more about them trying to take the role of holding your lifestory and I can see why that alarms people too.

I’ve seen the new Facebook timeline and it’s not bad. It took some getting use to, having started using it back in October. But yeah, it’s useful in my opinion. Like Ted said, you have the ability to go back to the day you registered really. I’ve found that useful in removing old information I forgot I had on there and actually wanted to remove when I saw.

But I do understand some people’s concerns. Then again, there’s always going to be people arguing about the “new look” of any site. Just take Google and Youtube for example.