OK, let’s get totally off-topic here, and let me rant about Facebook. Specifically, the new Timeline format for Pages.
Timeline has been out for a while now for personal profiles and now it is being rolled out for all Pages too. So if you have a business or a fan Page you will be “upgraded” to the Timeline format by the end of March. Or, if you wish you can elect to make the switch early. I chose to switch early – here’s what my Child’s Play Music Facebook Page looks like now.
Before I get into the rant: there’s lots to like about Timeline. Graphically the new layout is far more appealing, navigation is easier, and in most respects administration is improved – the ability to change dates on posts is particularly welcome, as is the new Messaging system. But …
Although Timeline is being touted by both Facebook and many commentators as giving Page administrators greater control of how posts are displayed and formatted, I don’t agree: in some ways it’s much more limited.
Under the classic FB interface it was possible to specify exactly what a visitor would see when they viewed your Wall. You could set it so only posts by the Page are visible, or all posts visible (including those by other people or Pages), and for this latter view you had the choice of either “Most Recent” or “Top Posts”. And those were important and useful choices – and you had control over them.
Those choices are gone under Timeline – and I’m angry! The view now defaults to what FB calls “Highlights”; this is FB’s statistical model of what it thinks are the most important posts. As far as I can tell your own Page Posts will always be visible, but FB chooses for you whether a post by someone else will be visible on the Timeline. And you have NO control over this. If FB chooses not to display a particular post by someone else: too bad, you can’t make it do so.
[EDIT – I was wrong! Unbelievably FB does not show all your own posts in “Highlights” view! I had only checked back a few days worth when I wrote this post and they were all displayed, but when I check back further I find many, many of my posts are NOT displayed – in fact far more are hidden than are displayed. Look, FB – as far as I’m concerned ALL my posts are “Highlights”; I wouldn’t post them if I didn’t think they were important. My thanks to Marc Armitage for drawing my attention to this in a comment below.]
You can’t even select that only your own Page Posts will be visible, let alone that all posts will be visible. Yes, you can click on a drop down box to choose to see either only Posts by Page or Posts by Others (but not both at the same time), but you can’t select either of these options as the default view for all viewers: it’s “Highlights”, full stop.
Why is this important, and why am I so angry about it?
Because this is all about Facebook taking control away from the Page administrator – control that up until now we have had. Hey – I’m the administrator! I want to be able to administrate!
Some Pages choose to have only their own Posts displayed – and this is no longer possible. Why? If they want to choose that display option (and many Pages do) how hard would it have been for FB to continue give them that option? It’s always been possible up until now, and I refuse to believe that something about the new Timeline makes it technically impossible; it’s just a choice that FB has made for us.
Many Pages (and my Page is one of them) have always chosen to have everyone’s posts displayed – and that choice is gone too, and I want it back!
Sure there’s a little box with excerpts of “Recent Posts by Others” but the box only shows the 5 most recent posts. And the excerpts are so short that they give you no real clue of what the posts are about – to find out you have to click “See All”. Now as Page administrator I’m prepared to click on that button – but will any of my fans do so? I doubt it.
Go have a look at my Page – check out what’s displayed on the default “Highlights” view. Right now you have to go back to February 9 before you find a single post that’s not my own. Then click on the little “Highlights” drop down box and select “Posts by Others”. WOW! That’s an awful lot of posts that Facebook has decided for me aren’t worth anyone seeing!
And that’s the nub of my complaint: Facebook is about interaction – I LOVE it when my fans post to my Page. But if their post is going to be hidden away they have far less incentive to post. Result: less interaction, and also less information and useful links being posted to my Page. My Page becomes less interesting to my other Fans – where’s the incentive to actually visit my Page (as opposed to just check my own posts coming to them in their News Feed) if that additional material isn’t there any more?
And when my fans post to my Page it’s not just me that gets the chance to interact with them – anybody who visits my Page can do so too. Somebody posts; I comment; somebody else comments about my comment, and so on. That’s all good – I want people to have many different ways to interact with my Page.
I’m really worried that these changes are going to reduce interaction – and Pages live and die on interaction. Facebook – let me decide what’s important and what isn’t!
Now understand: I LOVE Facebook. I never thought I would be a Facebook fanatic, but I am. The level of networking and interaction has just amazed me since I joined less than 6 months ago. I spend hours on Facebook, not because it’s making me a million dollars (believe me, it isn’t), but because I’ve found a community of like-minded individuals and Pages who are passionate about the same things I care about.
But I’ve also been frustrated by Facebook itself – not the people and the Pages, but the system. Facebook has a well deserved reputation for introducing major changes without adequate consultation. They are also remarkably unresponsive to user feedback. There’s no user democracy when it comes to Facebook; it’s an autocracy through and through. Facebook doesn’t negotiate: it dictates.
Why? Probably because they are in other ways so incredibly successful – when you have the stratospheric growth rate that FB has enjoyed there’s no incentive for it to be responsive to user feedback. Facebook is and remains the premier social networking site. Whether it will remain so – who knows? But if it wants to continue to dominate in the face of ever-increasing competition it will have to start listening to users.
So please – if you are as upset about this as I am, tell Facebook! You can submit it as a bug report here. Or use the feedback function of your own FB Page. You can do more – post about it on Facebook – let your friends and other Pages know about the problem. Shameless plug – share this blog post on Facebook 🙂 If enough people complain then maybe – just maybe – FB will do something about it.