Facebook Stream: It's Stream, as in Revenue Stream
Its proposed acquisition of Twitter now little more than an unrequited Superpoke, Facebook is tweaking its own service to mimic the microblogging outfit. The social network on Wednesday unveiled a new homepage that, in a nod to Twitter’s real-time message broadcasting system, now features “Streams”–Facebook’s “News Feed” revamped to update in real-time. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the concept in a post to the company blog:
One way to think about this is as a timeline–or a stream. As people share more, the timeline gets filled in more and more with what is happening with everything you’re connected to. The pace of updates accelerates. This creates a continuous stream of information that delivers a deeper understanding for everyone participating in it. As this happens, people will no longer come to Facebook to consume a particular piece or type of content, but to consume and participate in the stream itself.”
A heavyhanded explanation for a simplistic concept, but perhaps there is a deeper meaning to be found in our collective tweet of consciousness mutterings–“John is stuck at SFO,” “Beth is all liquored up,” “Adam is reminiscing about his days on the Newton”…“Mark has a laughably grandiose vision of his social-networking service.”
Or perhaps the deeper meaning here is to be found in another tweak Facebook is making to its service. As part of this redesign, the company is making profiles and pages the same thing. What that means is that pages created by public figures, organizations and companies will now look, feel and behave just like any other profile. Now their proprietors, too, can join “the stream.” “These folks will now be able to share status updates, videos, photos or anything else they want, in the same way your friends can already,” says Zuckerberg. “You’ll be able to keep up with all of their activity in your News Feed. This means that you can find out that Oprah is reading a book backstage before a show, CNN posted a breaking story or U2 is working on a new song, just as you would see that your friend uploaded new photos from her trip to Europe.”
Presumably, that also means folks like Microsoft (MSFT), BlockBuster (BBI) and Coca-Cola (KO) can also tip you off to the fascinating things they’re up to. So in the end, this redesign isn’t about the continuing evolution of the “social graph” or whatever the hell Facebook calls its network these days. It’s about developing a new advertising program that allows businesses legitimate access to the 175 million Facebook members the company has so far failed miserably to monetize.