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July 2012

Facebook Adds "Close Friends" List To Help Sort Through The NewsFeed Overload

Facebook has long known that the "News Feed" can easily drown most folks and it would seem that they are trying yet another attempt at helping people see more relevant info. When I logged into FB today, I was greeted by this banner on the top:

Facebook close friends

I decided to play along and added a few people as "Close Friends". After hitting "Done", I wondered what would happen.

The short answer is... nothing.

At least... nothing visible. I was back looking at my News Feed as per usual. Presumably over time as I refresh the news feed the updates from these "Close Friends" will appear more often in my News Feed.

Naturally, I wanted to know where these "Close Friends" went, and I could see no sign of them in the column on the left side of Facebook. I had to click on the "MORE" link next to "FRIENDS":

Facebook 1

to get to a page of all my "lists" and from there I could click on "Close Friends" and view the list. Once I went through this exercise, "Close Friends" then appeared in the left menu inside of Facebook:


Once inside the "Close Friends" list I had a standard News Feed view of just the people I had added to this list... identical to the way Facebook Lists have always operated. There was this special note, though:

Close Friends

And clicking the "Learn More" link pops up a new wizard walking people through "Lists":

Close Friends 1

The wizard introduced me to the concepts behind Lists, mentioned "Smart Lists" built seemingly from commonalities between profiles, noted that I can keep my old lists I manually built and mentioned that I can target status updates to only specific lists. Although, unlike Google+ it seems you can only send a status update to ONE Facebook List (whereas you can include multiple Circles in Google+).

I'm guessing that perhaps Facebook felt the need to go through all of this because they knew that people were getting overloaded by their News Feed, but they also knew that many people were not using the regular "Lists" feature that Facebook rolled out some time back. With this wizard and the accompanying boxes promoting "Close Friends" they can perhaps get more people using lists.

The last page of the wizard somewhat bizarrely mentioned that I could easily "Go straight to photos and updates from the friends you care about most", using a "LISTS" area of the left sidebar that I do NOT have. Hmmm...

Close Friends 2

In looking around at settings, I can't see anywhere to enable this "LISTS" view. My left sidebar in Facebook consists of:

  • APPS
  • INTERESTS (if I hit the "MORE" link to display this)

No "LISTS" for me. Is there some configuration option I've missed? Is this "LISTS" feature still in the process of rolling out to people? Is it just some other randomness inside of Facebook? Or is really the "FRIENDS" part of the sidebar as I noted earlier? (Does Facebook need to update their wizard? or update my sidebar?)

To be honest, I don't know how often I'll really switch to the list view for "Close Friends" (wherever the link is found). I don't spend a huge amount of time in Facebook... when I dip in I usually just scan down through the News Feed. Now and then, though, I can see the value of the list.

What I'd like more is to know that all the updates and photos from the people I put in that list will appear in my regular News Feed. Facebook's annoying feature of only showing you some of the posts from people means that I do miss out on what people post. I understand that it's one of their ways of helping with News Feed overload... and perhaps this list will help in prioritizing what you see.

What do you think? Will you use the "Close Friends" list? Will this help you in working with Facebook?

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Why World IPv6 Launch Matters to Communicators / PR / Marketing

Worldipv6launch 256With World IPv6 Launch happening last week, what does something as technical and geeky as "IPv6" have to do with people in public relations (PR) and marketing? Why should communicators really care about the underlying "plumbing" of the Internet?

As a user of a browser, the answer is that right now you as a communicator probably don't have to worry all too much... odds are that your operating system and browser will all work just fine with IPv6 once you have IPv6 connectivity from your Internet Service Provider(ISP).

However, as a PUBLISHER of content (ex. websites, videos, images, audio, articles, etc.) out on to the Internet, communicators NEED to understand what is going on with the transition to IPv6 - and how you can enable your content to be available to people over IPv6. To put the reasons succinctly, they are:

  • Speed - As areas of the world run out of IPv4 addresses, networks will be established with IPv6. Those networks will have "gateways" to content that is still on IPv4, but those gateways will inherently add latency / delays to people getting your content. If you want people to get to your content as quickly as possible (and to get to your content versus other content, since speed will increasingly count in search results), you'll want to make it available over both IPv4 and IPv6.

  • Access to new/emerging markets - Best estimates are that around 2 billion people are currently on the Internet. That leaves 5 billion more who will be coming online in the months and years ahead. Odds are that a large number of those will wind up on IPv6 networks.

  • Freedom / control - As IPv4 addresses continue to run out, some ISPs may put their entire networks behind a single public IPv4 address using something called "Carrier-Grade NAT (CGN)" or "Large Scale NAT (LSN)". The challenge for communicators is that these ISPs will then be in a position to be "gatekeepers" and either deny access to your content - or to charge customers, or YOU, for access to that content. Moving to IPv6 alone won't entirely prevent this from happening, but it will remove "IPv4 exhaustion" as an excuse for ISPs to do this.

  • IPv6 is the "new normal" - The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) recently issued a statement that pretty much ensures that all new standards will require IPv6... and you can expect new tools and services to emerge that are based on IPv6. Sooner or later you're going to need to have your content available on IPv6... why not be a leader instead of a laggard?

As to the "HOW", we've put together an IPv6 guide for content providers over at the Internet Society Deploy360 Programme that walks through the steps you need to consider.

In my recent reports into the For Immediate Release podcast I have covered this in some detail. First, in FIR 653, I spoke about WHY it is important for communicators / PR / marketing to understand what is going on with IPv6:

And then in FIR 654 I spoke at more length about HOW communicators can IPv6-enable their content, essentially covering the steps in the Deploy360 guide for content providers:

The reality is that the Internet of the future will be based on IPv6 - you as a computer need to understand how you can make your content available over this newer Internet.

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