And so continues the convergence of social media as we know it.
With the announcement of new Interest Lists last week, Facebook revealed that it’s taking yet another page from the old pre-existent book of social networking features, as written by competitors Twitter and Google+.
According to Facebook Software Engineer Eric Faller, Facebook Interest Lists are “a whole new way to keep up with stuff you care about.” Another facet of social media to check on the regular: just what you needed, right?
The goal is to clean up the Facebook experience by allowing users to organize their interests into neat lists. “Interest Lists can help you turn Facebook into your own personalized newspaper,” Faller said.
A closer look at Interest Lists
Subscribe to lists
Interest Lists live on the lefthand side of your Facebook homepage. To get started, click Add Interests… and you’ll be sent to the page seen below. Facebook generates a few suggested lists based on the Pages that you already like.
Build your own lists
Thanks Facebook, but I’m not really the type for a “Motivational People” feed starring Oprah. So, instead, I got to building my own list focusing on all things tech.
To get started, click + Create Lists. Facebook will guide you through the rest of the list-building process; you can choose from Pages you already like, friends, and a list of a dozen or so categories filled with (somewhat) relevant suggestions.
Keep on buildin’
Once your list is complete, you can continuously curate your content feed. If you find yourself on a brand’s timeline and feel that they’d be a killer addition to one of your lists, just hit the gear below their cover photo and select Add to Interest Lists.
That’s about all there is to it. All content can be accessed via the lists section on your homepage, plus the top stories form each interset will appear in your news feed, as you can see in my mobile updates to the right.
A not-so breakthrough concept
Sound familiar? Much like Circles and Twitter lists, Interest Lists filter people and brands into curated categories.
Yeah yeah, I get it. Facebook is trying to stay a step ahead with the whole social graph thing. But do the social networks really insist on competing by mutating into carbon copies of one another?
Will these lists catch on? Mehhhh
Will Facebook users arduously build and subscribe to these new-fangled lists? I wouldn’t put money on it.
The tech savvy portion of users already get their fill of segmented content via Twitter lists, Google+ and RSS feeds. Do we really need it from yet another source?
And social simpletons (is that offensive?) are so anti-change-of-any-sort on their beloved Facebook that adaptation is highly unlikely, in my opinion.
Let’s be real here, Facebook: we know you want to further monetize this behemoth platform you’re running, but we humans ultimately log into Facebook to interact with other humans, not to get news and other content from brands, bands and celebrities.
But it’s not bad news for brands
Disregarding everything I said above and donning my digital marketer’s hat, there’s a plethora of advantages for brands who manage to sneak their way onto users’ lists:
Timelines are spiffy and all, but using this nice layout to tell the poetic tale of your business relies on the user actually visiting your page. How likely is this? I don’t have any data here people, but I would venture to guess that it’s really not all that likely that Facebook users end up on your page by chance. You have to reel them in with interesting content. Before we relied on ads and newsfeed to entice Facebook users. Now we have one more chance to capture users’ attention: lists.
Lists are user-curated, opt-in feeds. This means that when I visit my Chicago Music Venues list, I’m already in the music mindset. I might even be looking to buy tickets to a show. At this point, you’re just spoon-feeding me the content that I came for. Easy.
So here’s the challenge: be hyper-relevant in order to earn a place on the right lists. From there, users do the work for you.
At this point brands can’t curate their own lists. But that doesn’t rule anything out. You and your team can build highly valuable lists that are relevant to your audience. If your list solves a problem for potential customers, they’ll want to subscribe to it. And they’ll also conveniently get content from your brand. Win-win.
What has your experience been with the Interest Lists? Find us on Facebook and let us know what you think of them.