Facebook prompts users to add close friends

CloseFriends

Facebook utilized the space above News Feed for some users to remind them to utilize the close friends feature. Through this, a designated group of close friends’ updates will be more likely to show up in News Feed.

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Top 10 tips for creating a Facebook event

Hugh Malkin 07.11.20131. Use a Facebook page to create your event and add your personal profile as a host.

  • Invitees have a link to see all of the other events you have created.
  • Invitees have a link to like your page.
  • Your personal profile can directly message all of the invitees (however, abuse of this feature can be seen as spam.)

2. Don’t make someone search for information on your event.

Make sure the important stuff is at the top of the details section and can be seen without hitting “See More.”

  • If there is a separate registration website, put that first!
  • At the end of the details section, list all of the links someone would be interested in: main event link, tickets, audio, video, Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, and all other event links.
  • Third party Facebook event aggregators such as HUGECITY recognize these links and highlight them for their audience.

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Spring Cleaning: Facebook prompts users to update friend lists to improve News Feed

friends 2Some Facebook users are seeing a banner above their News Feed encouraging them to update their “acquaintances” list so certain friends appear less frequently in their feed.

The acquaintances list launched along with “close friends” and Smart Lists in 2011. Users can add people to the acquaintances list to limit the amount and type of updates they see from them. Users can also apply this list to improve their privacy settings and prevent certain photos or posts, for instance, from being visible to friends they aren’t as close to. Over the past year we’ve seen Facebook try different ways to get users to update this list, but the prompt reader Matt Navarra saw on his homepage late last week is the most prominent.

news-feed-update-acquaintances

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Facebook removes options to filter friends by city, but some alternatives exist

Some Facebook users have been disappointed to discover that they can no longer filter their friends list by current city or other identifiers besides name.

When Facebook rolled out its redesigned friends page last month, it removed the option to search friends by current city, workplace, school, hometown and interest. Instead, the social network offers a way to view friends from a user’s own high school, college or workplace, as well as a way to view “recently added” friends, but these options are more limited. We’ve seen a number of questions and complaints in the community forums of Facebook’s Help Center about this change.

A Facebook spokesperson explained, “We try and simplify features when possible based on usage patterns. This is something we’re open to considering again in the future.”

Users who want to know which of their friends live in a city they’re thinking about visiting or work for a company they’re interested in can no longer use the search function on their friends page as a shortcut, but there are some alternatives. Users can visit business or place pages directly to see which of their friends are connected to them and how. City pages let users know whether their friends visited the city, lived there, worked there, was born there or went to school there.

Business or fan pages that have been claimed by the entity have less information. Users can see if a friend Likes the page or has visited, but they can’t see whether their friends worked for a company or attended a school. This used to be possible before Timeline, but was never brought to the new page layout.

Before shot of friends page via Cass Sapir.

Facebook roundup: Opera, Dubai, friend lists, Pinterest, more

Facebook to buy Opera browser? – Facebook is reportedly interested in purchasing Opera Software, which operates a desktop and mobile browser. Pocket-lint.com and The Next Web have sources saying Opera is talking to potential buyers and Facebook could be among those.

Facebook to open Dubai office – Facebook is set to open its first Middle East office in Dubai next week.

Facebook asks users to ‘star’ their friends -  Facebook is reportedly testing a new way to prompt to users add friends to their “Close Friends” list by suggesting that they “star” them, according to VentureBeat. The “Close Friends” feature, which helps users see more of their closest friends’ status updates, has been around since September 2011. Facebook has recently been experimenting with ways to get users to take advantage of the feature. [Image via VentureBeat]

Pinterest hires Facebook’s Schnitt – Pinterest hired Barry Schnitt, formerly of Facebook and Google, to be the head of communications and public policy.

Microsoft releases Windows Phone update - Microsoft released version 2.5 of its Facebook for Windows Phone app, bringing it more in line with its Android and iOS offerings. Among other usability improvements, Windows Phone users can now Like comments and view threaded messages.

Facebook introduces user restrictions for Open Graph stories - Developers can now limit their Open Graph app stories to users who meet certain restrictions such as age, country or certain kinds of content, according to Facebook’s Developer Blog. For example, a video app can specify that stories published by the app only appear in countries in which they have launched or to users who are over a certain age.

Timeline redesign being tested – Facebook is testing a redesigned Timeline layout that overlays some user information on top of their cover photo and reduces the size of links to users’ photos and map, for example. The redesign seems aimed at making more aspects of Timeline visible at one time without scrolling. [Image from AllFacebook]

Facebook tries new prompts to encourage users to organize friends into lists

Facebook now displays sidebar modules that encourage users to add friends to a “close friends” list and prompts users to add to their “acquaintances” list after they mark News Feed items as spam.

These two new features suggest that Facebook wants to emphasize friend lists as a means for improving relevance in News Feed, not necessarily positioning them as a way to manage a user’s privacy. The features are also examples of how the social network can encourage users to engage with aspects of the service they might not have used lately or ever tried.

In the past, Facebook included recommendations for who to add to a friend list on the list page itself, not elsewhere on the site. Now the social network is displaying sidebar modules — like the one seen right — to some users who haven’t added any friends to the “close friends” list yet. This list ensures that users see more of these friends’ posts in News Feed and sends them optional notifications about their friends’ activity.

Friends that are added to the “acquaintances” list will appear less frequently in News Feed. As such, now when users mark an item as spam, Facebook suggests, “Use Acquaintances to organize who you see in feed.” Clicking the link directs users to the recently developed tool that recommends who to add to the list based on users’ interactions on the site.

Last year Facebook rolled out “acquaintances,” “close friends” and “Smart Lists” after the launch of Google+, which highlighted its Circles feature as a way to help users organize who they share with online. Facebook, which first made friend lists available in 2007, had found that only about 5 percent of users ever created lists, so for years it seemed to de-emphasize them. Then with Smart Lists, it began automatically creating lists for family, coworkers, classmates and people who live nearby. It also began using algorithms to suggest who to add to close friends, acquaintances or any custom list users create.

But for all the talk about privacy concerns, it is likely that a small percentage of users use lists to limit who they share with, even though Facebook has begun creating them for people. This might have been what prompted Facebook to begin focusing on lists as a way to improve News Feed relevance. If the social network can get users to indicate who they are close to and who’s just an acquaintance, it can use that to improve their experience on the site. Users never even have to use the list on their own.

Facebook tool helps users divide friends from acquaintances, clean out News Feed

Facebook introduced a new tool for users to add friends to an “acquaintances” list so these people appear less frequently in a user’s feed.

The social network is promoting the tool as a way to “see posts that matter to you,” but interestingly it does not suggest using the list to protect certain posts or information — another key benefit of maintaining lists. In any case, the tool addresses an issue many users have after years of using the service and accumulating friends they don’t know very well.

An algorithm recommends friends to add to the list based on frequency of interaction. We’ve found the suggestions to be quite accurate. Many of the users Facebook suggests as acquaintances are already those who appear sparingly in News Feed. Still, users can deselect particular friends if Facebook miscategorizes them. There’s also an option to remove users from friends completely by hovering over a person’s picture and clicking “unfriend.”

This type of tool is interesting coming from Facebook, which aims to connect people and often prompts people to add more friends rather than delete them. But it reflects the realities of the service and helps people organize their Facebook connections as they do with people offline. When users feel confident that they can control who sees their information, they are likely to share more on the site, which is why it’s surprising that Facebook didn’t call out how users can hide certain posts or photos from their new list of acquaintances.

Nonetheless, the tool serves the other practical need of relevance in News Feed. Helping users indicate which friends they want to see less from will enable Facebook to show more stories that users do care about.

Users can access the tool from the link here or by searching “acquaintances,” clicking on the list result and then selecting “see all suggestions” from the right-hand side of the page.

Facebook introduces interests lists to organize News Feed by topics

Facebook today announced that users will be able to group pages and public figures into “interest lists” so that they can filter their News Feed by topic.

We spotted this feature last week and suggested it would be another challenge to Twitter, which offers a similar list capability. Facebook users have long been able to create lists to organize their friends, but there hasn’t been an option to group pages until today.

Facebook says users will see an “Add Interests” link in their left-hand bookmarks in coming weeks. From there, users can subscribe to lists from other users or create their own. Interest lists can include pages, subscriptions and friends. The top stories from each interest will appear in News Feed with a link to read more posts.

When users view a list, it appears as a filtered version of News Feed, similar to how people can view individual friend lists. The difference is that users can share and subscribe to each other’s interest lists if they make them available to friends or the public. Users can also create lists that only they can see. There are additional controls for users to select what type of stories to include or exclude in the feed. For example, you can select to see only photos from a page or only music and videos from a public figure.

As we noted last week, Facebook has been aggressively pursuing the “interest graph” — the relationship between people and topics. Many have pointed to Twitter as beating Facebook in this area, but with the subscribe feature and now interest lists, the social network is catching up.

It’s too early to tell, but interest lists could change how people view and interact with stories from brand pages. If users see posts among others on the same topic, they might be more engaged than when they see these posts among others from friends and unrelated pages. It also means users don’t have to Like pages in order to see updates from them. This raises questions about how ads will be targeted depending whether a user Likes a page or subscribes to it.

Still, interest lists are likely to be a power user feature. In 2010, Facebook said only 5 percent of users created friend lists, which launched in 2007. With the ability to subscribe to interest lists created by others, however, more users might adopt the feature. The company is also likely to promote the feature heavily in sidebars and other areas, as it has done with “People to subscribe to.”

[Update 3/8/12 11:14 a.m. PT - Facebook is already highlighting interest lists created by public figures. For example "Cast of Glee" created by Ryan Seacrest, "Washington Post Staff" created by journalist Mark Luckie and "NFL Players" by ESPN Adam Schefter.]

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Platform update: infinite scrolling, stream filters, user support, more

Facebook’s latest platform update includes infinite scrolling for the apps and games dashboard and API support for News Feed filters. The company also announced it will require all apps to include a an email address for user support starting April 1.

Developers could benefit from the new infinite scrolling feature on the apps and games dashboard because users will be likely to browse more titles when they don’t have to click a button to load them. This gives apps lower on the list of “Friends Using,” “Recommended Games,” “Recommended Apps” and “Newest” a better chance of being discovered.

The new filter parameter for the Graph API Home connection allows developers to retrieve part of a user’s News Feed. For instance, an app can pull just the stories from a particular friend list. This could be useful now that the social network has automatically created Smart Lists for users and is encouraging them to designate people as “Close Friends” or “Acquaintances.”

Facebook has also decided to start requiring all apps to list a user support email. Developers have had the option to include this in their apps before, but the user support email field will not be mandatory until April 1.

Two breaking changes effective this week are Request 2.0 migration and Requests 2.0 Efficient. The migration from FBML requests to Request 2.0 will be complete on Jan. 15.

The company also announced an improved comments box for mobile, which we cover in more depth here.

For further details on platform changes, see Facebook’s Developer Blog.

Facebook 2011: A Year in Review

Facebook’s “Move fast and break things” mantra was put into action again this year as the company overhauled a number of its products, introduced many new features and eliminated old functionality. Here is a month-by-month review of changes that most affected users, marketers and developers on the platform in 2011.

January

Redesigned Profiles
Facebook started the year with a new look for profile pages. With Timeline on everyone’s minds now, it can be easy to forget that 12 months ago the social network had redesigned profiles to include more photos and information at a glance, eliminating the horizontal tab structure that had been in place since 2008.

All-in-One Messaging
Users began to get access to the new Messages product, which groups all direct messages between users whether they are viewing a conversation from the inbox, chat window or mobile.

Sponsored Stories
In an effort to make advertising more relevant by including social context, Facebook introduced Sponsored Stories that allow advertisers to pay to promote activity on the site, such as likes or check-ins. The company added more Sponsored Story types in April and June.

Memorable Status Updates
Perhaps hinting at the nostalgia-inducing Timeline to come later in the year, Facebook began displaying users’ status updates and stories from the past.

Secure Browsing
Facebook started giving users the option of accessing Facebook over an encrypted connection and encouraged developers to obtain a Secure Sockets Layer certificate to make their iframe apps accessible to users with secure browsing enabled. Since then, the company has prompted users to switch to HTTPS and made SSL certificates mandatory for all developers.

February

Page Redesign
Page owners got a number of new features to help them manage their communities. These included activity notifications, “Use Facebook as a Page,” and a spam filter for comments. Fan pages were also designed to look more like the new user profiles and place pages, which displayed applications vertically on the left hand side rather than in tabs across the top. Advertisers also gained the option of driving ads to any landing tab, not just the default.

Improved Like Button 
Clicking the Like Button began sharing full-sized stories in the News Feed rather than the one-line Recent Activity stories it previously generated. This along with the Send button that came in April have replaced the Share button, which Facebook no longer supports.

Real-Time Commenting
Facebook made commenting more like chat by removing the “Post” button and instead publishing comments after a user hits “enter” on the keyboard. Since this leads to more accidental comments, Facebook later began giving users a 12-second window to edit their comment.

March

Questions
After a Q&A product similar to Quora never made it out of beta in 2010, Facebook relaunched Questions as a poll feature aimed at helping users get recommendations from their friends. Pages began using the feature to engage their fans with questions that had a more viral effect than plain-text posts.

Deals Subscription Service
Facebook seemed to be taking on Groupon when it began a new pre-paid deals service for users in select cities, but it discontinued the test in August.

April

Updated Groups
Ahead of the rumored Google+ launch, Facebook made improvements to its Groups product aimed at helping people share with subsets of their friends. Most notably, group admins gained the ability to approve people before they are added to the group. Users could now also upload photo albums or ask Questions within groups.

Send Button
The Send button was introduced as a way for people to share articles and third-party websites with groups of friends, whereas the Like button posts to all a users’ friends.

May

New Ad Analytics
Facebook made several changes to its advertising analytics dashboard to focus on performance indicators such as Page Likes, app installs and social reach, rather than older online advertising metrics such as CPM.

Recommend This Place
The social network implemented a recommendation box on place pages (and fan pages that included an address) so that users can share their opinions about a location or a business.

Tag Pages in Photos
Users and pages gained the ability to tag other pages in photos they share on the site. This increases the reach of any given photo and builds additional connections between users and pages.

June

Happening Now: Prelude to Ticker
Facebook began testing a “Happening Now” module on the right hand side of the page. This later became the Ticker, which shows more recent activity from your friends, including comments, page likes and now Open Graph activity like listening to a song in Spotify.

July

Mandatory Credits
All developers on the Facebook platform became required to use Credits as the sole payment option for their social games. The company had announced a July 1 deadline at the beginning of the year and then added additional payment options and feedback channels for developers over the next few months to support the transition.

Video Calling and Group Chat
Teaming up with Skype, Facebook integrated video calling into its chat product. The social network also expanded group chat to friends who were not already in designated groups. Users can now add any friend to a chat conversation.

August

Revised Privacy Controls
The company simplified its privacy settings page and moved controls to the profile editor and news feed publisher. Users also gained the ability to approve tags in photos, check-ins and statuses.

Canvas App Page Changes

Facebook made several changes to the Canvas Page, bookmarking and games stories in the news feed in order to improve game discovery, retention and user experience. The redesign added a real-time activity ticker dedicated to stories about a user’s friends engaging with games.

Expanded Ads API
Facebook brought its ad API out of private beta and began allowing more developers to build tools and services that programmatically create, buy and manage Facebook ad campaigns.

Standalone Messenger App
Moving away from its all-in-one mobile application strategy, Facebook released Messenger as a separate app to rival texting and group chat alternatives.

New Locations App for Pages
Some corporations gained access to a beta product that allows them to designate multiple locations under a parent page and include a store finder on the page.

September

Timeline
At F8, Facebook unveiled a new version of user profiles that organizes stories in a timeline format, giving users the option to add life events to any point in their personal history.

Open Graph Application Platform
Along with Timeline, the company announced a new way to connect people and objects beyond the Like button. Developers will be able to make apps that let users share what they are reading, watching, listening to, cooking and more. Along with this comes “frictionless sharing” and additional avenues for app discovery.

Reconfigured News Feed
To accommodate this new type of Open Graph app, Facebook redesigned the home page to include News Feed and Ticker.

Subscribe
Facebook introduced a new one-way follow dynamic with its Subscribe button. Users can subscribe to the public updates of anyone who allows subscribers. This gives the social network a way to compete with Twitter and Google+.

Smart Lists
The social network introduced Smart Lists to automatically group users’ friends by location, workplace and school. As users become comfortable with Facebook grouping friends automatically, we could see Facebook’s algorithms creating more nuanced lists that compete with Google’s Circles feature.

October

Mobile Platform
After much speculation, the company unveiled a way to help mobile developers market their native and HTML5-based apps through its platform. Developers can now take advantage of bookmarks, requests and the news feed in the same way that Facebook canvas developers do.

Talking About This
Facebook added a new public metric to pages called “Talking About This.” This metric encourages pages to think about engagement, not just accumulating Likes.

iPad Application
Facebook released its official iPad app after months of leaks and rumors about its development.

November

Sponsored Stories in Ticker
The social network began showing Sponsored Story ads in the Ticker, signaling more lines being blurred between paid and organic content in the future. The company later told us Sponsored Story ads will be shown within the News Feed starting in 2012.

December

Timeline Goes Live
Facebook began its global release of the Timeline profile developers had gotten a preview of at F8. Timeline is still opt-in for users until sometime in early 2012. The company also debuted Timeline on mobile devices for the first time.

Coupon Test
We discovered Facebook testing a new coupon post feature for pages that could have big implications for next year. Pages that are part of this beta can offer discounts and promote them with Sponsored Stories.

Private Message Test
We have also seen the social network testing a way for users to privately message page owners. This, too, could have a big impact for people using Facebook for business in 2012.

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