Sunday, December 12, 2010

Social Media 101: Facebook Profiles

So there's something new and confusing going on: Facebook's new picture-centric profiles! Has it got you hunting around your friend's page for buttons and features that used to be elsewhere? Per Larry Magid:
To begin with, your profile photo, which appears in the upper left corner, is now bigger. And information such as where you live, where you work, your hometown, where you went to college and your birthdate are now directly under your name near the top of the screen. Speaking of friends, if you click on a friend's name you can view your relationship with that person including all of your interactions on Facebook going back to the time you became Facebook friends.

Facebook is also featuring your friends and family. Family members are now listed in the left column along with some of your friends. And, if you decide you want to feature some special friends, you can create a list and feature that list directly in the left column your profile.

Facebook is quick to point out that nothing has changed when it comes to privacy settings and that's true. Any limits you've put on who can see information will be respected on the new profile page. But what has changed is that information that was once somewhat obscure now jumps out at anyone who visits your page.

Yes, per Facebook Founder & CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, privacy is a thing of the past. Or maybe you just need to update your settings. I haven't figured out yet how to pick the pictures it shows, because they may not be the ones you want. As for what Zuckerberg said on 60 Minutes about the new look:
"It gives you this amazing connection with that person in a way that the current version of the profile that we have today just doesn't do."


Current Facebook profiles list personal information such as birthday, relationship status and city of residence in a left-rail column underneath the user's single profile photo. The new design moves that information up higher, in a more conversational format -- offering a quicker, more readable mini-portrait of a person.

In Sunday's interview, Zuckerberg called the change an effort to put the most important details about a user front-and-center for new friends or friends looking to catch up.

"I work at Facebook, and I spend all of my time there, right?" he said. "I mean, here are my friends. I grew up in New York, and now I live in California, right. Those really kind of basic, important things."



Dave Knox posts what he thinks is the real reason for the changes, and it's not (mainly) to improve user experience:

One of the major reasons Facebook is emerging as such as an intriguing advertising platform is the targeting capability that it gives brands. An advertiser is able to specifically target a person through the information that is available in their Facebook profile. This information goes far beyond simple age / sex / location and includes everything from music tastes to political views.

But the problem is that very few people spend the time to update their profiles on a regular basis. As a result, much of the information that marketers are using to target is either out of date or not as reflective of the person as it could be.

I personally think that the new profiles are an attempt to change that. By elevating and enhancing the way information is displayed in the profile, Facebook is hoping to trigger people to update their profiles. Obviously Facebook would like people to keep the profiles updated, but this release at minimum provides a trigger to get people to make the change this one time. And with that update, people will be providing more valuable data to Facebook and its advertisers.

Whichever it is, it is unavoidable. Perhaps you may want to do this to change your profile picture yourself -- use a cartoon image from your childhood (yes, a form of piracy) to indicate your support for awareness against child abuse.

Which might help cause targeters find you as well.

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