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Facebook Users Don’t Like Timeline

When Facebook made its new Timeline format the default for all of its users’ pages it caused the expected outcry from many people that didn’t like the changes. Facebook is no stranger to controversy and their experience so far has been that regardless of the opposition to the evolution of their site, their membership numbers continue to climb and the time that people spend updating their status and liking their friends’ posts keeps increasing as well. The changes favor Facebook’s corporate customers, fueling the subculture on Facebook that is vehemently opposed to social marketing. Like it or not, Timeline is here to stay.

The initial reaction was for calls to roll back Timeline to the old format, at least as a profile option for users. Because Facebook is now heavily invested in Open Graph apps this would make their new advertising medium incompatible with the old style pages and so it was never going to be an option. Several user groups sprung up that kept lobbying for Facebook to lose Timeline, ironically many of them on Facebook itself, and tracing the timeline of the prominent ‘Timeline. The No Thanks’ group, even as far back as their beginnings on December 7th 2011, shows that they really haven’t received the support of the bulk of Facebook users with only 13,391 likes from a potential 800 million members. While a lot of the posts on these sorts of Facebook pages are general denouncements of the new format, there is also a large number of posts that offer users the chance to change their Facebook display back to the way that they liked it.

Timeline seems to have spawned a new micro-industry in websites that promise to tell users how to dump Timeline, but they are the usual types of web scams with one notable scheme taking people to a website where they were told to click on several ‘Like’ buttons for web-spam pages and then their Timeline would magically revert to the old format. In fact, some of these pages were so popular right after the change that they were the top ranked pages when searching Facebook for ‘Timeline’1. There are ways to revert to the old display that involve reconfiguring your web browser2 but most people aren’t going to have the tech savvy to be comfortable changing the settings in Chrome or Internet Explorer, and as time has passed, it seems like many users don’t feel it is as necessary now as it was six months ago.

The winners in the introduction of Timeline are definitely the businesses that use the apps to market themselves on the site. With the introduction of Open Graph actions to users’ posts the advertising has become more subtle, and engagement with brands on Facebook has increased. Some studies have shown that brands are getting 46% more people to like their posts or share their content than they were before the introduction of Timeline3. The news is even better for small businesses with brands that have less than 1 million fans, showing the greatest increases in engagement rates for their posts as well as a 60% increase in likes.

Facebook has to tackle the difficulty that it has with using traditional Internet advertising because of low click through rates, and one of their solutions comes in the form of Open Graph ads which need the Timeline format in order to operate effectively. For this reason alone Facebook will stick with Timeline even though a reported 70% of their users called for them to scrap it4. As the change has settled in the sting has gone out of the opposition, and it seems that Facebook users have decided that even if they don’t like it they like the idea of not using Facebook at all even less.



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