Facebook Is Starting to Get My Attention Again

Facebook recently made its new design permanent, despite the protests of many vocal users. Where the old focus was on a slow newsfeed, ornamenting your profile and interacting through thrird party apps, the new design puts content and conversations at the center of the user experience.

I think Michael Arrington still has one of the best perspectives on it when he wrote The Friendfeedization Of Facebook back in July.  As he said there:

But it’s also clear that they like what they see at Friendfeed, which expertly combined the idea of an activity stream that was first popularized by Facebook with the microblogging trend introduced by Twitter. Users constantly add content that their friends read and comment on, which creates yet new content. The virtuous page-view creating cycle continues.

The attraction of FriendFeed for me is the ability to discover new things via the variety of feeds, and to engage others in conversations about a wide range of topics. I had stopped using Facebook because of the inane apps and the funky secret algorithm that controlled what went into the news feed. Movie trivia games and sheep throwing with old school friends just wasn’t that fulfilling.

Interactions from My Facebook Network Are Increasing

But recently, I’ve noticed activity in my Facebook network picking up. I generally don’t post anything in Facebook – tweets are my status updates, FriendFeed is my activity stream. In the past few days, I’ve had more interactions via those tweets than I’ve had in a while. Here’s an example.

Tweet: “Alternative theory…Palin’s interview with Couric was just to set the bar incredibly low for her upcoming debate with Biden.”

Responses from my network…

High school friend: “If so, she’s a genius.”

College friend: “Brilliant tactic IMO.”

Cousin: “I can hardly wait. It will be so cringe-worthy!”

Former co-worker: “hmmm, I have my fingers crossed. Sadly, Biden has the tendency to put his foot in his mouth too……”

As a point of comparison, here’s the response this tweet got on Twitter:

N/A: no one replied.

Now it’s not like I’m the most active Twitterer. But I’ve been more active there than on Facebook. Facebook had more interaction in this case.

And as one more point of comparison…here’s the response on FriendFeed:

5 Likes, no comments

Likes are great, they are the currency of FriendFeed. No conversations though in this case.

Facebook: The Value of Context and Better Interaction Hooks

Actively engaging in FriendFeed and (somewhat) Twitter, I’ve built up some context with my networks on those sites. And there are plenty of good conversations there. FriendFeed is still my favorite haunt.

What interests me with the Facebook experience is the variety of people from my life – classmates, family, colleagues – that commented on that tweet. I really haven’t maintained a strong interaction with those folks. But there’s an existing reserve of “context” from my past interactions that is the basis for interacting.

And Facebook really did take a page from FriendFeed, with commenting on various activities. I’ve been impressed with how non-FriendFeeding, non-Twittering people in my network have started using the new commenting functionality.

I don’t know if it will last, but early results are promising.


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