Very Pinteresting, in fact. Last night I asked Facebook why its Collections feature had disappeared, and it confirmed “the test is now complete”. But now it tells me that’s because the product is being built out, presumably for a full launch, not being shut down as I originally published. Facebook will improve Colletions and port it to mobile, but had to shut down the existing version to do that.
[Update: This article has been heavily edited. Yesterday I learned that Collections had been deleted and links to posts featuring the Collect and Want buttons were dead. But rather than shut down Collections as I originally published based on Facebook confirming the test was complete, Facebook now says the product is being built out. It will probably relaunch in a slightly different form, as I predicted might happen. You can see the original version of the article here. ]
Facebook gave me this statement on Collections: “Product development on Collections has not stopped. Instead we have completed our initial test of Collections and are now analyzing the data to inform product development. For many of the product tests we do, we periodically pause the test to assess how to best progress with the product’s rollout.”
Pinterest is an undeniable success. People want to nest online, saving and curating the beautiful things they find. Pinterest made it easy for friends to see the things you’ve discovered, and sometimes click through to buy them.
Facebook seemed to think if this nesting and product photo sharing was so popular, maybe it could improve itself by offering Collections. So it ran a little test, letting a handful of businesses such as Pottery Barn add Collect or Want buttons to photos of their products they shared to the feed. Then it watched to see if people clicked.
Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. Collections felt a little awkward. We’re so used to Liking and commenting, that clicking Want or Collect didn’t seem very natural. Stories about what was saved could end up in the news feed. However, the actual collections [Facebook's version of the pinboard] felt buried on the profile and drowned out by other things to do on the site.
Collections was also rather limiting and overly commercial, since you could only pin products from partnered businesses, not just anything you found on the web. And there was no mobile version.
But no matter how it did with users, Facebook think’s there is potential for Collections, even if it needs an overhaul.
A revamped version of Collections may launch sometime in the future. For now, existing Collections have been erased from the Timelines and Activity Logs of people who created them. So much for data portability, but this was a very short test, one of many Facebook is tinkering with.
Social commerce sharing and discovery is not going away. It could blossom into a core way people shop. Facebook wants to be the place where you discover things you care about, including products. And surely it wouldn’t mind these businesses paying to promote their products, buying fans to share them with, or giving it a cut of sales.
So for now we’ll have to wait and see how Collections is resurrected.
Maybe something not so Pinterest-y. Or maybe a more accurate copy. Personally, I think a more flexible way to organize photos and posts into specific layouts for sharing might be a more natural way to nest. We’ll see. Even if this original version wasn’t quite up to snuff, Facebook is going to iterate until it figures out photo-friendly commerce discovery.
[via Natalie Dee]