Facebook’s Strategy is Forcing Us to Categorize our Friends by Delaying Real-Time Search

friendNow that all your friends have stopped wondering whether or not they like the New Facebook Changes, we can study what this is doing for Facebook and it’s users.  First, here’s Jared W. Smith with a great summary of the changes:

The area where you enter status updates has been made into a more ambiguous “publisher” which will post status updates, notes, photos, and the like. …  A lot’s been made of a comparison to Twitter, but I think FriendFeed is a far more effective analogy because of the range of items you can share … Facebook was pretty straightforward to use because a status update was a status update, a photo post was a photo post, and the like. It’s all been melded together now…

Where’s the Real-Time Search?

With all the recent talk about Twitter threatening Google (unlikely, Google has massive amounts of personal data) why didn’t Facebook include a Real-Time Search like Twitter?  For example, this weekend I wanted see which friends were at the South by Southwest conference (SXSW) but couldn’t.  So I went through hundreds of updates trying to find out.

Facebook is Forcing  Friend Categorization

The seemingly intentional omission of real-time search suggests that Facebook’s strategy is to solve for real-time search by forcing Friend Categorization.   I found myself wanting to organize friends into a “tech” friend group because those would be the most likely attendees of SXSW.

Friend Tagging/Categorizing is Insanely Valuable to Facebook

Facebook benefits if users are labeling, tagging, and categorizing their network.  Most of us aren’t self-aware enough to properly label ourselves, so having our network label us (anonymously) provides a hyper-accurate categorization of who we are.

Search is probably coming…but not until we’re all labeled

It’s easy for Facebook to implement real-time search and it is valuable to users.  Facebook is intentionally waiting to roll it out until we’ve all done our job helping Facebook categorize ourselves.   As a user…I don’t know if I’ll ever spend the time to organize everyone.  As a strategist, I congratulate you Facebook.  Great move.


Posted on March 16, 2009 at 10:23 am by Ben Foster · Permalink
In: Facebook, Strategy · Tagged with: , , ,

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  1. […] A couple months ago, Facebook introduced us (who weren’t using FriendFeed) to the “Like” button.  Users could quickly indicate their appreciation for content without having to think about writing a witty comment.  Users improved their understanding of how to make their friends happy.  Facebook built even more data around micro-demographic preferences to further their strategy of people organization. […]

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