Everybody’s talking about the new FaceBook homepage. Some hate it and some love it, but one thing is clear, FaceBook means to become the page you set as your personal home-page. You can import your feeds from your other sharing services like Twitter, FriendFeed, and even Google Reader shared items. Heck, Social Median just announced they’ll be using Facebook Connect as their preferred way to login to the site, so little by little the other networks are falling into line.
As much as I’ve pooh-pooh ed FaceBook as a networking tool for professionals in the past, these new changes will make it a real player for anyone with a lot of networks to watch and people to connect with. I have to say I like the new look. Suddenly I can actually FIND things on Facebook, which makes me more likely to actually use it. The structure is more intuitive and customizable and the filters and highlights areas make a big difference in usability.
Because of the new layout tabs, you’ll be able to send users to the page directly with a unique URL (rather than the old method of trying to walk them through how to find what you wanted to show them). You can create a different landing page for business, different projects, friends or just for your favorite vampires (I couldn’t resist). You’ll also be seeing much better stats through FaceBook Insights, letting you learn a lot more about what people are REALLY interested in.
The filters feature allows users to customize the activity stream. You can create different channels for the groups you follow, one for family, one for business and so on, allowing you to quickly scan for important details without having to scroll through everyone’s updates. It works similar to Tweetdeck (the popular Twitter client) in this way, allowing you to group people in logical categories and maybe creating a group for the more vocal members of your list so you can actually see the rest of your friends’ activities.
There is still some work to do to make it user friendly though. You can delete someone from a group with one click, but not add a new friend. or example, every time you want to move someone to a group you have to go to the Friends page to make the change.
The highlights section keeps a running record of what’s popular from your social graph. You can see likes and comments on your friends blog posts or status messages, and see if there is a surge of interest in a particular FaceBook page or fan page. Again there is room for improvement since you can’t control the flow of information in this channel, but it’s an interesting start.
FaceBook used to have a panel that let you decide what kind of stories you wanted to see in your stream and used an equalizer like slider to allow you to set preferences for the frequency of each kind of story item. It’s a little different now. You can still decide which of your apps you want to see content from, but you can’t control the quantity of the flow.
Overall I like the changes, and I think as time progresses FaceBook will only get stronger. Will it supplant FriendFeed and Twitter? Not in my house. But I will start giving Facebook more credit as a networking tool.
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