Facebook changed. What does it mean for your business?
Facebook changed? Again?
We should hire someone whose sole responsibility is to keep up with all Facebook changes. And that’s all.
OK, let’s be serious now.
Last week Facebook announced a new layout for fan pages to make them more similar to profiles. Actually, the changes affect not just the layout, but also give more functionality to pages and more power to admins, as well as encourage users to spend more time on pages (supposedly).
And for the first time since the platform entered my life I am not going to complain about the new layout. To be honest, I think most of the changes are great for businesses and community managers, some of them are interesting, and I am not sure how to react to a few.
What am I excited about?
You can finally post as yourself on your page or post as a page on another page. Before the changes, page admins weren’t able to post as themselves on their page (the only way to post a comment to an update on your page was through the newsfeed). Now, you can post and comment as yourself or as the page. Before, admins had to like another page to mention it in a status update on their page and comment on other pages as admin. Now, you can like another page as yourself or as the page you administer. And even better, you can post comments on other pages as the page you administer. (I know it sounds messy, but it will make perfect sense to community managers and page admins.)
Another exciting improvement, in my opinion, is the ability to change page categories and subcategories. It’s HUGE. As you might know, the category of your page determines how much information and what kind of information you can add to the page.
If you made a mistake and assigned the wrong category to a page, you had two options: 1.) delete the page and start over or 2.) live with it and find other ways to share more info with customized tabs. Now, you can change the category from “Edit Page”!
You can also use Facebook as a page and see a newsfeed from the pages your page likes. You can see who are the new fans on your page, which shows in the same way as “Friend Requests,” and get notifications about any activity on your page. You can even get e-mail notifications, which is a great tool for relatively small pages. Not only do Facebook Pages look like personal profiles now, but they also function in a very similar way.
What are the new interesting features?
If you have a strong and popular community manager, now you can feature him/her as a featured owner of the page, kind of like Foursquare staff. It is an interesting new feature that allows you to give credit to the community managers on your team and let people know who is behind the page.
The changes allow Facebook users to access the content on your wall with two filters: “Everybody” and “Page Name”. Nothing new here. But if they choose “Everybody,” the posts aren’t in chronological order, rather they follow a new algorithm that gives priority to rich media updates and relevancy (whatever that means in Facebookland). It definitely makes the wall more engaging, but also puts pressure on admins to share more rich media and relevant content.
Facebook knows that most users spend too much time on the platform mostly to look at pictures, hence rich media is getting so much attention not only from the new wall algorithm, but also through a new gallery of images across the top of the page. These images come from your page albums and from images shared by fans. For now the order of the pictures is randomized, but you can hide images that you do not want to appear in the gallery.
Facebook is giving some tremendous power to admins with the ability to pre-moderate posts and comments through a block list. You can prohibit users from posting if they use a word or words from the block list. Of course, admins could simply delete such posts before, but now moderating content is even easier. I can even see some brands prohibiting posts that refer to their competitors. This new feature can easily backfire if not used with caution. One word: transparency.
What are the changes I am not sure how to react to yet?
“Suggest to friends” is now on the right side rail instead of the left. It will be interesting to see if it is used more or less often.
And probably the biggest layout change: tabs aren’t on the top of the page anymore. Look for them on the left side rail. No tabs were deleted in the process, but your customized tabs might look a bit funky because they have a strange “<->” symbol. On the positive side, there are no character limitations in the names of customized tabs. If a character limit exists, it is more than 100 characters, according to my experiments. It will be interesting to see how this changes affects specific tab views. Keep an eye on your “Insights.”
If you have claimed a Facebook Place page or merged a fan page with a place page, you have already seen the new layout. If you haven’t, you can preview and/or opt-in now. The changes will take effect on March 1, 2011 regardless whether or you have opted-in.
How do you update your page(s)?
All page admins should have received an e-mail by now. If you haven’t, go here to upgrade your page(s). Don’t forget to preview your page(s) before you click the upgrade button.
Facebook has also updated its official Facebook Pages Manual, which you can download here.
Facebook announced that even more changes are underway for pages. Hopefully they will be beneficial.
What do you think about all these changes? Like? Dislike?
How are you going to take advantage of them?