by Ben Parr
Facebook is driven by a single, unique goal. Its priority isn’t to gain more users (it already has 750 million of those), nor does it feel compelled to find stupid ways to increase pageviews. Its primary goal right now isn’t to increase revenue, either — that will come later.
No, Facebook’s goal is to become the social layer that supports, powers and connects every single piece of the web, no matter who or what it is or where it lives. On Thursday at its f8 conference in San Francisco, the world’s largest social network will take a giant leap toward accomplishing that goal.
I have seen what Facebook is launching on Thursday, and it’s going to change the world of social media. And while I won’t talk about the mind-boggling things Facebook will be launching (Mashable was pre-briefed on the matter and agreed to hold information under embargo at Facebook’s request), I will say this: The Facebook you know and (don’t) love will be forever transformed. The news that will come out of Facebook during the next few weeks will be the biggest things to come out of the company since the launch of the Facebook Platform.
For Facebook, it all boils down to one problem: emotion. Facebook has hundreds of millions of users and spectacular levels of engagement, but it is a platform that has lost its emotional resonance over the years. More and more people visit Facebook out of necessity rather than desire. It’s a platform people prefer to hate, but won’t leave simply because all their friends are there.
It’s a relationship gone stale. After years of dating, the magic between Facebook and its users has dissipated. It’s a natural evolution in any relationship, but now there is another suitor vying for Facebook’s users. And a lot of people think this suitor is easy on the eyes.
That’s why Facebook launched three recent changes: revamped Friend Lists, a real-time news ticker, and thesubscribe button. Friend Lists lets you share content with just your closest friends (with whom you have the strongest emotional connection), and the ticker lets you have real-time conversations with your friends as soon as they do anything. Subscribe lets you fill your News Feed with people you admire and respect, fostering a different type of emotional connection.
But these changes are just the beginning. The changes Facebook will roll out on Thursday are designed to enhance the emotional connection its users have to each other through Facebook. These changes will make Facebook a place where nearly everything in your life is enhanced by your social graph. These changes will make it so you know your friends better than you ever thought you could.
On Thursday, developers will be elated, users will be shellshocked and the competition will look ancient. On Thursday, Facebook will be reborn. Prepare yourselves for the evolution of social networking.
While we wait for Facebook’s big reveal, here’s a look at the changes to the News Feed that the social network already rolled out that have lots of users talking:
Facebook’s new design highlights posts that you’ll likely find important, and prioritizes them at the top of your feed when you log in. The top stories are designated by a blue tag in the upper left corner of the post. From what we can see, however, top stories don’t regenerate much throughout the day — especially if you keep Facebook open in your browser like your Twitter ticker.