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Why Facebook’s Changes So Far Have Nothing On F8

All eyes focus Facebook today as the company holds its annual f8 developer conference on the heels of a massive site upgrade that has users upset. We talked about these developments with Laura O’Shaughnessy, chief executive officer of the Washington Post Company’s Social Code.One of the biggest features rumored to be announced on Thursday is the addition of read, listened and watched buttons for media. According to O’Shaughnessy, Social Code stands ready to “immediately dive in and understand” the new features, should the rumors prove true. Social Code plans to “collect data on how users can use [the new buttons]” to best advise their clients, top global advertisers, on how they can “connect to users in new ways and use the information for targeting” potential customers.Social Code’s research over the past few months has proven highly informative for brands worldwide. One of their recent studies showed men and younger adults are more likely to click the like button on an advertisement than women—a finding that should help brands better target their customers by both age and gender. O’Shaughnessy notes, however, that the like button is only about a year old, and Facebook’s largest growing user population is older adults, so eventually, the rate at which both age groups click the like button “might even out.” If the rumors prove true and Facebook does release read/listened/watched buttons in the near future, Social Code plans to study patterns of how age and gender affect the frequency at which Facebook users click the buttons.We asked O’Shaughnessy to prophesize on how the buttons would be used across the genders—specifically how women, who are less likely to click like, but who are also avid readers, would take to them. She comments, “Women are readers, but are also more cautious about broadcasting…so it might balance.”Admittedly, it is early in the game to make assumptions on how these buttons, which may or may not truly exist, will be used by both marketers and Facebook users. However, O’Shaughnessy sees such a button system as a fantastic opportunity that would “allow brands new ways to parse users, which is essential…It would allow marketers a more refined way [to target customers] which is of enormous value.”As for Google Plus, and Facebook’s recent changes that look to be very similar to the new social network, O’Shaughnessy says, “We don’t know what they are going to be yet. Their story is just being written. Facebook is very smart to look at new platforms carefully and see what they want to borrow.” She compliments the way Facebook is constantly looking to improve user experiences and is “thrilled in how they move forward.”Facebook’s users have been less than thrilled with the recent changes to the service over the past two weeks. When asked if we could expect more negative feedback with the rumored F8 announcements, O’Shaughnessy believes, “We will see a backlash. Expect initial discomfort. Facebook users take it personally—the service is a big part of their lives. Users will adapt, or Facebook will adapt” to appease the user community.O’Shaughnessy reminds us that change is “part of the deal” when working with Facebook, social media and technology in general. No matter what changes Facebook brings forth, there will always be naysayers. Only time will tell which changes are successful, and which ones fall to bittersweet extinction.Readers, do you think you would use  read/listened/watched buttons? Would you be likely to seek out media your friends have read/listened or watched?

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