Facebook’s Most Useful Feature

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For all the recent hullabaloo about Facebook removing the “is” from a person’s status updates, the fact of the matter is that the “is” is Facebook’s most useful feature. (You’re still with me, right? And just to be crystal clear, the issue is on removing the word “is” rather than the status update box.)


While you may skim through all stories posted, who’s become friends with who, who has joined a group or left a group, who has written what on someone’s wall, etc., what most people do check out is your status update. As a result, it’s can be a very effective space to communicate what you’re doing, what you need/want, etc. You need help finding a new office? Put something in your status updates. Need to hire someone? Put it your status updates.

So, stop fooling with all those time-wasting applications (other than PlanetEye’s My City). What you really need to do is focus on your status updates because it’s very valuable real estate.

Questions: What the appeal about writing on someone’s wall. I mean, it’s a message that can be seen by everyone’s friends so it’s not like anyone is going to say anything worth reading. And can anyone explain the function of Facebook Groups? What do you get for joining one other a notice to everyone that you’ve joined one, and eventually that you’ve left one?

Update: TechCrunch has a few posts on Facebook today, including one on whether Facebook is censoring search.

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  • Alex Barrera

    I don’t quite follow your reasoning here. The problem with the “is” is (sorry for the redundancy) that forces you to use the same verbal forms always. That’s a pain in the ass (at least for me). I’m with you that it’s the most valuable piece of information in Facebook, but it could be better. As some have noted, if you remove the ‘is’ it’s like adding twitter to Facebook ;)

    Anyway, I really wanted to comment on the Facebook Groups issue. I’m SO with you on that!! It’s just SO useless!! I wished I could receive updates from the group, that way I would know what’s going on. If I have to check it all day I just wont do it. It’s just so weird that more and more people are using RSS but we still have systems like Facebook groups.

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  • Ben Lucier

    I’m with Alex on this one Mark.. When people complain about removing the “is” from Facebook status, they literally mean REMOVE THE “IS”… not TAKE AWAY THE STATUS OPTION. That’s how your post reads at least.

    What would be really great is if Facebook would tie into Twitter in some wickedly useful mashup and just let me update both Facebook and Twitter simultaneously… The problem is the character limit on status messages (based on my current status, I think it’s 157 chars).

    And yep… like Alex and yourself, I agree with you on the group thing. There’s no easy way to check group activity and know what’s happening, without getting a mass email by the group ADMINs or visiting the group itself. Useless.

  • Mark Evans

    Ben: I’ve updated the post to try to be more clear.

    The Twitter/Facebook mash-up is a great idea. You need to find a developer, create it, and launch it on Facebook Apps platform. Could be your road to riches…or, least, 15MOF. :)

  • Martin Dufort

    Look at twittersync in the FaceBook app directory

  • Aidan Henry

    Hey Mark,

    Great post as always. Just thought I’d throw in my two bits… I’m still of the belief that Facebook’s best feature is the ability to tag others in your photos, and vice versa. Previously, there was no way of knowing if you were in others’ photos. I truly think that this feature helped Facebook catapult to what it is today. I also think that the “News Feed” is the stickiest website feature ever produced, although it is an amalgamation of many features…