Facebook Timeline Rollout 'When It's Ready': Lavrusik

“Four billion pieces of content are shared daily on Facebook,” said Vadim Lavrusik, journalist program manager at the social network, who spoke at the Changing Media Landscape panel at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism last night.

“Not to say all of those [who post content] are journalists, but everyone participates in some shape or form,” said Lavrusik, who, differing from his fellow panelists requested that his Facebook profile be included in his bio in place of his Twitter handle.

As of right now, he has 28,693 subscribers to his profile. The page he runs, Facebook + Journalists, has 146,724 fans, while 1,337 people are “talking about” the destination as of this writing.

Part of Lavrusik’s job is to think of how journalists specifically can use Facebook better, and he’s been focused on building out the educational resources available to journalists on the network to help them enhance their reporting, share better, and find information clustered around events more easily.

“We really think partnerships, such as the one we have with Yahoo, have really personalized the news experience. The New York Times also now has Facebook features. You can log in and see what your friends share.”

Friends, he said, can be a pretty good filter (though some may call this narrowing).

Lavrusik is particularly pumped about Timeline, a new feature that hasn’t launched yet – it was supposed to go live late September. Currently, only Facebook developers can access it.

“It will launch when it’s ready,” said Lavrusik. “I’m really excited about Timeline.”

He’s also boiling over about the subscribe button, another project the 2010 graduate of Columbia’s School of Journalism has been toiling away at. “It’s the biggest thing I’ve worked on in the past few months,” he said.

The new feature will help Facebook users keep up with content better, he said.

It will allow anyone to subscribe to your public updates. This way, people who you may not know personally and/or consider friends, such as readers and sources, can read your updates without becoming a friend in your network. These contacts will be subscribers.

Then, Facebook users will be able to designate information they post as public (available to subscribers) or available only to those who are friends in their network.

This may further help users limit the availability of the information they post so that only certain people in their network can see it – without limiting the size of their overall network.

“We don’t give enough credit on how far people have come, how much progress has been made,” said Lavrusik. “Five years ago I used to help my mom log into her Wells Fargo account to check her account.” She now has her very own Facebook account, he said, that she created on her own.

“The fastest-growing demographic on Facebook is 55-plus,” he adds.

This is information he and colleagues study closely.

“The majority of news organizations don’t think enough about analytics and audience research,” said Lavrusik, “How the demographics break down.”

His gain, perhaps. The average Facebook user now posts double the amount of content they did this time last year, and that doubling has occurred each of the last two years, said Lavrusik.

Facebook actually has made changes based on how it’s seen users operate on its network.

For example, he said, in response to noticing that a community blog had started using the notes feature to post blog posts, they considered how they might improve the formatting of long-form content and decided to increase the number of characters available to use in a status update from 420 to 5,000 characters.

“If content is king,” said Lavrusik, “then distribution is queen.”

Does volume equate quality? Yes, he thinks so.

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