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Facebook plans to roll out a major redesign of user profiles at its f8 developer conference this week, Mashable has learned.

Details about the redesign are sparse, but two sources familiar with Facebook’s plans (who have asked to remain anonymous) have told us that the redesign is “major” and will make Facebook

profiles nexuses for consuming content.

The profile changes will be part of a wider launch, one that will include launch of a music and media platform.

Here’s what we know so far about the profile redesign:

The redesigned profiles will be more “sticky,” says one source. One of the goals of the new profiles is to get users to stay on them for longer.
We already knew Facebook is launching a media platform at f8. However, we’ve also learned that the platform — which will include music and video from partner sites — will display the media content a user is watching or listening to on their profiles. Essentially, when you’re listening to Lady Gaga on Spotify, your friends can see and access that on your Facebook profile. This confirms a recent New York Times report.
The redesigned profiles are part of a larger push into social ecommerce. We don’t exactly know what that means, but we’ve heard whispers that Facebook intends to give Facebook Credits more prominence. We’ve also heard that a Facebook app store may emerge at f8.
Facebook’s push into ecommerce may be related Project Spartan, an HTML5-based mobile platform rumored to be launching soon.
Facebook is being tight-lipped about the changes; the company declined to comment on this story. However, more and more pieces of Facebook’s big launch continue to leak out as the excitement builds for f8 (feel free to send us screenshots if you have any) The company is currently under lockdown, trying to fix the final bugs before Thursday’s big launch.

What do you think Facebook will launch on Thursday? Let us know in the comments.

As seen on Mashable.com

Facebook has launched a Subscribe button that lets you follow the public updates of others,

 regardless of whether you’re Facebook friends.

The new subscription options are part of Facebook’s effort to give users more control over their Facebook accounts and their News Feeds. “Facebook has always been working on giving users more control,” said Facebook Product Manager Naomi Gleit.

Starting Wednesday, users will begin seeing a Subscribe button alongside the “Message” and “Poke” button on Facebook profiles. The button gives you a way to follow the content others are posting without actually becoming Facebook friends with them. In a lot of ways, it’s like following somebody on Twitter.

This button works a bit differently based on whether you’re looking at a friend’s profile. If you subscribe to the profile of somebody who is not your friend, you will get access to his or her public status updates in your News Feed. You can fine tune what type of updates you see. For example, you could subscribe to my Facebook Page and choose only to see my status updates and ignore my game or photo updates.

If the user is your friend, subscribing gives you the ability to granularly control how much of his or her content enters your stream. If you want to see every post your significant other is posting to Facebook, you can set the Subscribe button to show “All Updates” in your News Feed. On the other hand, if you want to ignore one of your acquaintances unless he gets engaged, then you can select the “Only Important” option under the Subscribe button.

The Subscribe feature is totally optional — you can choose not to subscribe to anybody, and you can choose to turn off the Subscribe button on your profile if you don’t want to gain any subscribers.

Much like Twitter, the total number of people subscribing to your public posts and the number of people you’re subscribed to appear on your profile. This number does not include pending friend requests. Existing friend requests will not turn into subscribers automatically, but Gleit says that going forward anybody who sends you a friend request will automatically be subscribed to your public updates (unless you turn the Subscribe button off).

The Subscribe option makes public Facebook posts more useful, especially if you start gaining an audience. However, it provides yet another layer of complexity on top of an already complex product. It could spur more public sharing a la Twitter, or it could raise more privacy concerns for a social network that has had its share of privacy controversies.

What do you think of the Subscribe button? Is it a smart addition to Facebook, or is it a useless feature? Let us know in the comments.

  

 
As seen on Mashable.com
 

Yesterday, we outlined a bit of what we’ve heard about Facebook’s upcoming f8 conference. One big launch will be their official foray into music. Today, we’ve heard more about that launch.Screen Shot 2011-09-10 at 12.11.01 PM

One thing we’ve heard from a very good source is that a key aspect of the service will be “scrobbling”. The term, made popular by Last.fm, means that when you listen to a song, it gets sent to your profile without you have to do anything. I assume there will be a way to turn this off, or a way for you to selectively share songs, but this is a key to the service.

Not that a post-music-to-profile feature should be surprising. Facebook’s core feature is the feed, and music will now make it even more robust. In fact, depending on how popular Facebook Music is, it could end up being one of the biggest sources of feed content.

And I think it will be pretty popular based on the second bit of information we’ve heard. Facebook Music will also apparently offer content resolution between all the different music partners involved. This means that if you’re listening to Rdio and a track goes up on your profile, a MOG user can click on the track and still hear the exact same song in full. Essentially, you’ll only need to sign up for oneof the major music services Facebook is launching with to be able to access most content (there undoubtedly will be some songs available on one service but not another, so it probably won’t be fully seamless, but I assume you’ll be able to hear previews regardless).

This content resolution will likely be the most important aspect of Facebook Music. It turns Facebook into the great social music unifier. You can share songs without having to worry if your friends will be able to hear it or not based on what streaming service they use.

It’s not clear what partners Facebook has gotten to agree to this unification beyond Rdio, MOG, and Spotify. It’s certainly possible that while other services will be a part of Facebook Music, those three will be the key ones.

In terms of functionality, we’ve also heard that there will be a standard player that plays music without interruption from page to page as you browse Facebook. Om Malik previously reported on the persistent controls as well as a larger Music Dashboard area. Malik stated that the player would be at the bottom of Facebook, but we’ve heard that Facebook has been testing variations on this player, so it’s not yet clear where it will reside (top, bottom, etc).

Update: Inside Facebook’s Josh Constine has an interesting thought: what if the desktop software team at Facebook was working on a scrobbler that could also work with iTunes to import listens? Those tracks could then by matched and played via Spotify, MOG, Rdio, etc, on Facebook Music itself. Constine notes that he doesn’t have any inside information on this, but he did outline that possibility following our post from May on Facebook’s Seattle-based desktop software team.

Even if that isn’t a part of the initial roll-out, this makes a lot of sense down the road for Facebook Music. Or what about a Last.fm partnership for the service? And what would Apple think of all this?

As seen on techcrunch.com

Shane Snow is co-founder of Contently.com, an “agile publishing” platform for brands-turned-publishers and freelance journalists.

Old school SEO pros cover your ears, or be prepared to adapt your craft: Search engines are changing, and social media is a huge part of that change.

BingGoogle, and an increasing swath of nimble little search engines like Blekko and DuckDuckGo are incorporating social data into their results. This is potentially great news for new businesses trying to achieve visibility in search. It’s less great news for sites that rely heavily on link buying (illegal, but hard to catch), producing huge volumes of borderline-useless content (long-tail, content farm approach), or just really old domains (previously an SEO trump card).

Both Bing and Google admitted in interviews that their search results are positively affected by social signals, such as tweets, Facebook Likes, and +1s.

 

SEE ALSO: How User-Generated Content Is Changing SEO 

 

 

“As ideas, thoughts, questions and answers are shared more freely and easily than ever, the increased amount of information from social sources provides great benefits to users,” says a Microsoft spokesperson for Bing (who asked to remain anonymous).

“The links that you build through social media, the references, the authority — all can have an impact in various ways on how you are ranked and listed even in ‘regular’ search results,” says Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-chief ofSearch Engine Land, in an email interview. “Social media allows for people to provide more trusted signals.”


Search Engines Adapt to Survive


Since the early Internet days of Excite and Webcrawler, the principal goal of search engines has been to help people find what they’re looking for. Google rose to dominate the industry by tracking better indicators of content quality than anyone else. It developed a complex algorithm that measured which websites were “voting” for others by linking to them.

Essentially, it was social media, but for websites rather than people. If your site had lots of links from relevant sites, your Google rank climbed. Plenty of other factors, like putting keywords into headlines and titles, remained in play (and continually evolved), but the game changer of the last decade was links.

The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry emerged to help webmasters play the “me rank higher” game with Google. On the one hand, website owners attempt to adhere to Google’s standards and prove they are high quality (creating relevant, high quality content and formatting it to Google’s taste). On the other hand, shadier sites try to trick Google’s secret formula, “pretending” to be good content without having to bother with creating useful stuff.

The spammers have done well for themselves. Over the last few years, searchers have increasingly complained about the number of irrelevant or spammy results returned in searches.

The battle to the top of search keeps search engines on their toes. Every so often Google, makes an abrupt change in its algorithm, like the “Panda Update” of early 2011 that wiped out a significant number of content farm results. Periodically, new search engines launch to try to outdo Google. Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, has climbed to 30% market share since its launch in 2009. Blekko, an “anti-spam” search engine, has climbed to a million searches a day since its launch in 2007.

And now, social media is factoring in to make results even better.


Social Media Changes The Game


Social networks produce an immense amount of data about what real people like enough to share with their friends.

Today, people share 30 billion pieces of content on Facebook and over 5 billion tweets — about a quarter of which contain links to content — per month.

In an industry where knowing what humans like is crucial to success, search engines have figured out — and taken to heart — a delightfully simple mantra: If people share your content, it’s probably pretty good.

In a white paper called New Signals To Search Engines, Search Engine Strategies Advisory Board chair Mike Grehan says, “End users who previously couldn’t vote for content via links from web pages are now able to vote for content with their clicks, bookmarks, tags and ratings. These are very strong signals to search engines, and best of all, they don’t rely on the elitism of one website owner linking to another or the often mediocre crawl of a dumb bot.”

We’re already seeing proof of search engines taking social data into account when serving results.


Social Data Is Personalizing Results


 

 

 

 

Last year, Bing started incorporating Facebook like data into its search results. Results for pages that a searcher’s own friends had liked show up more prominently.

And more recently, Bing announced better results through Facebook data and “collective IQ,” meaning that things popular throughout Facebook (not just among your friends) rank more prominently.

 

SEE ALSO: Why Web Personalization May Be Damaging Our World View 

 

 

“Search is better when it’s not just based in math and algorithms, but also infused with the opinions of people,” writes the Bing team in a blog post.

Google answered back to the Bing-Facebook deal with its own +1 button, and subsequently Google+. When searching as a logged-in Google user, you now see this social data personalizing your results.

Sullivan recounts how automaker Ford rose in his Google results after he added Ford to his Google+ account. “Ford gets into the top results for cars not because of links, not because of the content on its page, but because I was ‘friends’ with it,” Sullivan says.


Shared Content Now Ranks Higher in Organic Search


Both Google and Bing have added real-time results to their searches, meaning Twitter (and now Google+) results show up prominently above other content.

In addition, several experiments have shown that sharing stories on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ can dramatically affect regular search results as well.

In July this year, Rand Fishkin of search engine authority SEOmoz.org performed a series of experiments to see if 1) social shares affected Google search results, and 2) how quickly those results appeared. (Find the full details on the experiment here.)

Spoiler Alert: In every test Fishkin performed, tweets and Google+ shares dramatically affected the rank of new, previously unindexed content. The results in most cases were nearly instant.

“We’re experimenting with clicks on +1 buttons as just one of the hundreds of signals that influences the ranking and appearance of websites in search results,” says a Google spokesperson (who wished to remain anonymous), via email. “As with any new ranking signal, for +1’s and other social ranking signals, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals are related to quality.”

A Microsoft spokesperson (who also requested anonymity), says via email that tweets and Facebook Likes do indeed positively affect a URL’s ranking in search results on Bing. “To be candid,” she says, “we are experimenting with placements in order to strike a balance between this new social signal and the other signals we have honed to determine relevance.”

“Social signals that say quality are pretty straight forward,” says the Microsoft spokesperson. “Look to things such as likes, re-tweets, shares, etc. Beyond that, watch for the sentiment surrounding the action. Are people sharing your content via Twitter yet flagging it with #fail? If so, it’s a clue they’re displeased.”

When we go to a search engine, we want to find what we’re looking for, immediately and hassle-free. It’s clear that social media is helping search engines deliver more immediacy and more relevant results. In the long run, this will help SEO-directed businesses focus on what they should be doing: creating content people love.

Image courtesy of iStockphotohillaryfoxilbusca

 
As seen on Mashable.com
 

Tumblr, the popular New York-based blog and social networking service, surpassed 10 billion total posts on Friday.

The company celebrated the occasion by temporarily displaying digital pink, yellow, purple and red confetti on its users’ dashboards.

In mid June, Tumblr was hovering around 6.5 billion total posts. The site saw an additional 4.5 billion posts in just three months, which means the quantity of daily posts each day is on the rise — just as appears to be the case withtraffic to Tumblr’s website.

The milestone achievement could not have come at a more opportune time; the company is rumored to be in the midst of raising a substantial funding round that could value it at $800 million. Plus, news of its continued success could even drown out recent complaints from dissatisfied fashion marketers.


As seen on Mashable.com

Google has finally launched an iOS app for Blogger, giving the blog network’s millions of users a simple way to write, manage and publish posts from their iPhones.Blogger Finally Releases an iPhone App

The app, available for iOS users 3.2 and up, is rather straightforward. It allows users to compose and publish blog posts complete with photos and geotagging. It also lets users view and edit their published and draft blog posts. It mimics the simplicity of the Blogger for Android interface, though. Users can also manage multiple blogs from the interface.

While the app works for the iPad, it only works in compatibility mode. Hopefully an iPad app is in the near future.

This is the first official Blogger app for the iPhone. BlogPress created an unofficial app that Blogger endorsed, but an official app has been long overdue. The blogging service, once the world’s largest blogging service, has been overshadowed by WordPress, Tumblr and more lightweight competition. Google recently started investing in an overhaul of the service in an attempt to make Blogger relevant once again.

As seen on Mashable.com

What do you think of Blogger and its new iOS app? Let us know in the comments.

 

Facebook has begun testing a slew of changes to the News Feed, including friend list filters and Smart Lists that automatically categorize your friends.

The changes seem to be aimed at making the content within the News Feed more relevant. These changes, as far as we can ascertain from screenshots sent to us, show that Facebook is dividing
the News Feed into lists, much likeGoogle+ has done with Circles. “Feed filters make it easy to see a selected set of friend’s updates in one place and share exclusive with them,” Facebook’s guide to the new feature states.A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on this story.One of the most interesting aspects of the revamped News Feed is the addition of Smart Lists. Smart Lists automatically sort your friends into a work list, a list for classmates and a list for friends who live within 50 miles of your city. This makes it easy to post updates just to your college friends or to talk about a local party with just your nearby friends.

The changes are likely to be construed as a response to the rise of Google+, whose Circles feature makes it easy to share content with smaller groups. Facebook has always had Friend Lists as a feature, but less than 5% of users use them in any meaningful way. These changes are designed to fix that.

Check out the screenshots below, and let us know what you think of the revamped Facebook News Feed.

As seen on Mashable.com

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