Dan Rose, vice president of Partnerships at Facebook, just took the stage with host Mike Issac here at D:Dive Into Media 2013. In a nutshell, Rose is responsible for relationships with the myriad developers that end up in News Feeds in some way -- regardless of whether the program is built for Facebook, or simply a program that shows interactions on Facebook. Right out of the gate, Issac asked about the ever-changing News Feed, and what users can expect from that in the future.
Rose noted that Facebook is constantly "trying to find that perfect equilibrium between a great user experience, while still being enticing to developers. We listen to users on Feedback who tell us if something is valuable. Hiding a post is negative, while Liking or commenting on a post would be positive -- sometimes our algorithms don't hear the user signal fast enough. In those cases, we work closely with our partners so that they understand why we're making those changes. We want people to continue using Facebook, and the only way we do that is if we keep things interesting and we respond to user input." In other words, it's a constant battle between users who don't want to be spammed by pitches in their feeds, and developers who want to get as much visibility as possible by getting into those very feeds.
He continued: "If a developer says 'What's the one thing I should focus on?', the answer is simple: create great content. We're spending a lot more time focusing on that, particularly on media content. Recently, we increased the size of photos for news sites -- that's a much better experience. That image needs to be large so that it captures the essence of the brand, rather than a thumbnail. With those larger images, people click more often (around 15 percent more). It does a better job of honoring their content."
From there, Issac then asked about the categories we'll see explode this year on Facebook, to which Rose had this to say:
"Facebook had its ninth anniversary recently, and our belief is that the next decade is going to be about the applications that can be built for this huge amount of people. Games emerged as the first category to really get traction. After games, news took off because of the Like button. Last year, we saw the emergence of social music. Looking forward, we're excited about movies, books and fitness. So often, the choices we make about what to watch comes from recommendations from our friends. In addition to publishing this stuff on your News Feed, users want it on their timeline. Some of the things that are important to me are the books I've read and the movies I've watched. Fitness is a little different, but it gives us a peek at the future. It's certainly mobile first -- what you need for fitness to really work is to have your device with you. You can then share that with your friends -- Nike+ does this really well -- people can comment during a run and hear your friends cheering you on. Users can also learn about the routes that you ran, and perhaps they'd be interested in joining you for a workout in the future."
From there, we heard a new take on a familiar refrain: how Facebook is adapting to a world that's becoming altogether more mobile. Rose stated: "We talk about 'mobile first' in 2012, but we want to be 'mobile best' in 2013. We want to create some mobile experiences that simply can't be done on the desktop. One small example is a feature called Nearby -- on your phone, it's a way to search for businesses near where you are at the moment. That's just a baby step. Facebook is a mobile product -- even prior to smartphones being prolific, people wanted to post to Facebook from places that they go. A lot of people consume it when they just have mere moments to view and share."
We'll be reporting live from D:Dive Into Media as it continues on February 11-12. You can follow our coverage by using the "dmedia2013" tag.