Facebook’s newest update was apparently worthy of a mention on all radio stations this morning on my way to work, alongside Russia’s involvement in Syria….
Regardless of whether the update was truly news worthy, it is a major update to how you can portray digitally through your profile. Facebook is rolling out the ability to have a video playing on loop every seven seconds as your profile picture. They have also centred profile pictures/videos and allow you to provide more detail with accompanying photos to your About section in an attempt to give you more control over your profile. The new layout and About section are but sidepoints to the video profiles – something that Facebook hopes will improve the experience for the claimed 4 billion profile views a day.
Video has been integrating itself into our digital lives now for a number of years, shown most clearly that Youtube is the second largest search engine. True, Facebook has been in the forerunners in video adoption amongst social networks but it has only been in the last 18 months with Facebook rolling out autoplay videos uploaded directly to Facebook in 2014 when they have seen a sharp increase in video views. The popularity of Facebook’s now native video content is continuing to grow with a 50% increase at the end of Q2 and beginning of Q3 to (again a claimed) average of 1 billion video views per day since June (although many sources report they have hit a 4 billion mark) . Autoplay, related video options and a better mobile UX has meant that Facebook has become a bonafide video platform.
Backlash for Snapchat?
We’re sure this is a business oriented update in an attempt to rival snapchat, rather than a reaction to the egg on face moment when Snapchat’s founder Evan Spiegel turned down $3 billion offer from Zuckerberg in 2013. However, this update comes with the functionality to set your profile video as temporary, for an hour or a day. In Facebook’s own words “they represent what’s going on in your life right now” – it does present an interesting question considering how similar it could be to snapchat’s story function! Regardless, the temporary function could be a touch of genius…albeit stolen from Spiegel’s brain.
Increased usage of profiles
Facebook have been innovating on their platform since day one, always seeking to improve our Facebook experience and slowly migrate us from other areas of the web to their mythical walled garden. This update appears to be just another step towards that final goal, identifying the rise of video in our daily lives and offering it as an alternative to the often drab profile update. It is no secret that Facebook want profiles to be the focal point of our digital lives and this update will only increase people’s usage of their profiles reigniting the profile update. Prepare yourself for some pretty mundane profile video updates, with the odd amusing one thrown in.
As per usual this update will not just be released into the wild for all to use and is mainly focussed on improving the mobile experience. Facebook are testing it amongst a ‘small number’ of iphone users in California and us in sunny UK. Surely that is a sign that the UK population are avid users of Facebook and represent a forward thinking and adaptable testing ground for Facebook? Or at least we would like to think we were…