It's just over 3 months since Google dropped the bombshell that it was launching their own social network and inevitably the attention immediately switched to Facebook to see what they would do in counter the launch. Facebook were initially quiet but they went in to their famous "Lockdown" phase and started rolling out a whole host of new features many of which were lightly "inspired" by Google +. If anything the launch by Google seems to have helped accelerate the development cycle at Facebook with the main beneficiaries being the end users who are getting an improved service. Whatever way you look at it and despite the fact that Facebook were working on some of this stuff before anyway you can't but be impressed at the staggering response to the launch of Google + by Facebook...
This was the first response that Facebook had after the launch of the well received Google product "Hangouts. The Skype launch allowed users to quickly call friends all over the world within Facebook and was probably being developed well before the Google plus launch.
One of the areas that Google + was having some early success with users and getting praised for on blogs was their improved photo product but Facebook was quick to reply. Facebook have improved the design, removed the ugly black background and improved resolution of all photos on the site.
Probably the most innovative and best received part of Google + was their new circles feature which allowed users to group their friends in to handy lists and Facebook quickly improved their own lists features as a result.
One of the areas where Google have a huge advantage (although they have not yet launched their business pages) is their Analytical products and Facebook updated their own page analytics to try and improve their own offering earlier this month.
Facebook has had a dodgy privacy record at best over the years and it's an issue that has never been far away from anything they do. When Google + launched that was one of their major selling points and it seems to have forced Facebook's hand in terms of introducing improved privacy options of their own.
Social Apps - Music And Publishers
This was the biggest and most exciting development at the Facebook F8 conference alongside their new timelines as it essentially meant a whole new way for discovering all sorts of content from music to newspapers and films. Much of the attention was focused on Spotify but the truth was that this move turned Facebook in to the ultimate platform.
A small update on the surface but when Facebook started allowing advertisers to target people based on their post code (USA only at the start) it marked a whole new foray in to local advertising for them. They have scrapped their local deals in the same time but local advertising is a fantastically useful tool for marketers.
This was probably one of the biggest problems that people have had with Facebook over the years in that you had to accept friend requests with people to see their updates. Facebook copied the Twitter model of allowing people to subscribe to other users and changed the dynamic of the site instantly.
Another feature that provoked outrage when first launched on the site but it actually seems to be getting well received now and people are starting to use it to discover all sorts of new content and make new social connections.
New Ad Formats
Given that it is one of their main sources of revenue you would expect Facebook to be constantly adding new ad formats and improving on their social ads and that is exactly what they have done. New ad formats include sponsored stories within the ticker and improved tracking.
This was the biggest announcement at Facebook's F8 developer conference and although not live for all users yet it will be the biggest change to the site since the early days. Facebook essentially reinvented the profile completely to create a canvas for your entire life.
In the last month Facebook have drastically changed the way in which the news feed works and how stories get surfaced. This is a complicated process involving lists, latest stories and top stories and although users were not happy at first they have settled down now and everybody seems to be happy again with the most important part of the site.
Launched only yesterday many iPad users have been waiting nearly 18 months to experience the social networking on the world's best selling tablet. This wasn't a case of Facebook being slow at developing it but more to do with behind the scenes politics with Apple.
Improved Mobile Offering
This was just released yesterday and was the first step in what will eventually be an improved mobile offering from Facebook. Their app was getting outdated and the new HTML5 alternative that allows users to use apps with the browser will change the game going forward even if this is only a very first step.
It feels as if Facebook have more or less rolled out the major things that they needed to immediately. The only thing that is certain to improve are fan pages to fit in with the new design as well as continued work on their new HTML5 mobile offering. It's amazing how far the site has come in just 90 days and Although it's put Facebook back on the front foot they will have to keep innovating to stay ahead of the pack.
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