Yo dawg, I heard you like newsfeeds so we put a newsfeed in your newsfeed.. Holy crap! What am I supposed to click here!
– FourSquare product boss, Alex Rainart
This is the reaction of a tech savvy user to Facebook’s latest experiment, the “Happening Now” feature. Happening Now is Facebook’s attempt at keeping users on Facebook for longer. It is a newsfeed within your newsfeed of everything your friends are doing at the very moment. This goes beyond status updates, it’s everything happening right now… think of it as Twitter for Facebook. That’s what it seems like at least.
So why is Facebook testing out this new feature? Is it because of competition, or is it because of users? Competition takes away users, but users also create competition. For Facebook, it’s more complex than that. Twitter doesn’t directly compete with Facebook, usually users consume both Facebook and Twitter. Facebook gets one big reward for having users stay on for longer, and that reward is ad monetization. The longer users stay on Facebook, the more Facebook displays ads, and thus makes money.
Due to Facebook’s recent decline in the USA and Canada, getting a new feature to engage users further seems like the next logical step. In a world where people immediatly check their Twitter and Facebook feeds as soon as they wake up in the morning, browse their RSS during their breaks, and blog at night about what they’re eating – instant news feeds are becoming an addiction. If Facebook plays their cards right, and successfully implement the “Happening Now” feature, unlike their facial recognition rollout, they will reap tremendous benefits while their customers jubilate for the addition of yet another instant news feed to subscribe to.
So, what’s Happening Now in your life?