For the first time, Facebook users can now give star ratings to movies, TV shows, and books. That data could help Facebook show more relevant content and results in news feed and Graph Search. The feature comes alongside Facebook’s announcement that it’s finished rolling out “Sections” that show what apps you use. Sections let people express themselves and gives developers a new way to grow.
Facebook first started testing the new Sections in mid-March as part of a redesigned Timeline with all user posts in the right column. Now all users have the cleaner looking Timeline with posts and Sections divided rather than mixed up. Down the left column, each content type and app gets its own Section, which you can configure in your profile’s About tab. The Music Section displays what musicians you Like, the Spotify Section shows off what songs you’ve been listening to, and the OpenTable Section features restaurants you’ve favorited or recently ate at.
Right now Facebook is trying to get more of your opinions codified in its graph, and Sections with ratings are a big step in the right direction. As I wrote, Sections and now ratings could be a data goldmine for Facebook’s Graph Search, as they encourage people to forge connections with apps and media they care about. Graph Search relies on those connections to generate and sort search results for queries like “Movies my friends Like”. Facebook would know to show your friends’ five-star rated movies above lower rated flicks they’ve Liked.
For developers of content consumption apps like Spotify, Hulu, GoodReads and more, Sections will offer another way to grow beyond posts to the news feed. Considering people add 200 million items to Sections each day and it only just reached all users, the growth opportunity could be signficant.
Facebook now has an Insights dashboard specifically for showing developers how much traffic they’re getting from sections. Facebook says “more than 17 billion songs have been added to people’s music sections through Likes and listening activity from apps.” Now Rdio and Spotify can track how those sections are netting them new users.
If Sections catch on and people properly curate them, scrolling through a friend’s sections could be a great way to discover new art and apps. Meanwhile Facebook gets to chow down on the data you volunteer. Give Game Of Thrones a five-star review? Facebook will know to show you more of its Page’s updates in your news feed than a show you Like but only give three or four stars to. Add RunKeeper to your visible app sections and Facebook will probably show you more runs posted by friends.
The fact is that the apps we use and the media we consume are becoming an important way we express ourselves. Facebook wants Timeline to tell you life story, and that story would be incomplete without this data.