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Facebook now offers developers an easy way to allow users to follow other users’ activity within Open Graph applications, even if those users are not friends.
With the new built-in “follow” action, users will be able to get updates about other users’ app activity within the Facebook News Feed, rather than needing to visit the app to find out about it. For example, a person might follow a journalist within a social news app to see what they are reading or follow a celebrity chef within a food review app. Having these stories within News Feed could lead more users to see this activity and then visit the app or share it with friends.
Some apps like Pinterest and Quora have already been using their own Open Graph “follow” actions to share this type of activity back to Facebook, but now Facebook has made “follow” built-in, just as it has done with “read,” “watch,” “listen” and “like.” Built-in verbs can include additional benefits. In the case of “follow,” developers will get additional distribution through News Feed, Ticker, Timeline and notifications.
The action of following someone will generate a story in Ticker and in the recent activity box on Timeline. Users will also get a Facebook notification when they follow someone. These features promote re-engagement and viral growth, though it’s odd that users who are followed don’t receive a notification that someone followed them. Likely to drive even more re-engagement is the feature that will put any user’s app activity in News Feed. Many users visit Facebook several times a day, but they don’t always visit other services as frequently. Now users won’t have to think to visit another app or site on their own. They will see prompts in News Feed that will take them there.
We saw evidence of Facebook testing a new “follow” action earlier this week, and wondered whether it might have been related to a deeper Twitter integration. Now it seems what we saw was likely related to today’s announcement. However, this might be further reason for Twitter to build an Open Graph app and take advantage of Facebook’s viral mechanics to engage users who aren’t as active as others.
Facebook says it will no longer approve custom follow actions. Apps that currently use a custom follow action must migrate to use the built-in follow in the next 90 days. Technical documentation about the built-in “follow” action is available here.
Source: Inside Facebook
More than six months after Timeline launched for users around the world, Facebook still hasn’t made the new profile mandatory.
Timeline, like most Facebook changes, has a large group of critics. But unlike most Facebook changes, this one has been opt-in. The social network has been patient about not forcing users into the redesign, even if it means there are some inconsistencies across the site. Facebook has not set a public deadline for when it will implement Timeline across the site.
Developers — and users who claimed to be developers — could switch their profiles during a beta period between September and December last year. On Dec. 15, 2011, Facebook made Timeline available to any user who wanted it. Although the new profile was opt-in, company spokespeople said Timeline would be mandatory for all users within a few weeks. Previously, Facebook had given users five weeks to convert to a new profile design, but it hasn’t done the same for Timeline.
An informal poll of 17 users found that an average of 62 percent of a user’s friends had upgraded. That percentage was calculated by taking the number of friends that have signed up for Timeline, according to this page, and dividing it by a user’s total friend count. This is slightly skewed since Facebook recently changed friend counts to include users who have deactivated their accounts, but in general, it’s clear there is a significant portion of users who haven’t switched, despite Facebook’s efforts over the past six months.
In December, Facebook began showing prompts on the profiles of users who switched to the new look. Facebook provided early access to celebrities including Britney Spears, and it continues to promote the pages of public figures who use Timeline. In order to use new Open Graph applications, such as social readers and music streaming services, users must upgrade their profiles. The social network has also tried running stories in News Feed about users changing their cover photos or adding places to their map, features that are only available with Timeline. This has been a much slower and deliberate rollout than Timeline for pages, which Facebook made mandatory for all page owners within one month.
Offering an extended opt-in period and promoting discovery through friends seems to have worked well for the first 50 to 80 percent of users, but it’s unclear how Facebook will transition the final group of holdouts.
Source: Inside Facebook