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Five Facebook Developments for Businesses

The engineers at Facebook have been busy fine-tuning and adding new features lately, prompting the following primer on what's new and -- more important -- what these developments mean for your business. Included among the additions and changes: There's now a "Send" button for websites. "Deals" on Facebook launched this week, and its "Questions" function is live. Further, Facebook Page administrators now have access to a "view Notifications" section, and Facebook enhanced its Comment Box plug-in for websites.

Here they are, in no particular order, with a thought or two on their significance for businesses:

Send button: Once installed on your website, Facebook's Send button makes it possible for visitors to privately share your website content with their individual Facebook friends and groups. Unlike the Like button, which when clicked posts a Like notification on the Facebook user's own Wall and News Feed, the Send button enables one-to-one peer sharing of your content using Facebook's Message platform. Business significance: Visitors to your website can now share your content with only the peers or groups they want as opposed to all of their Facebook friends in a public setting via the Like button.

Deals: Deals is Facebook's long anticipated effort to horn in on the daily deal phenomena, imposing its 155 million U.S. user base against Groupon's 70 million members and LivingSocial's 28 million members. Here, Facebook is focusing on deals for items and events that are best done with friends, like harbor boat cruises, concerts or public activities. Business significance: In addition to there now being another 800-pound gorilla in daily deal space -- one that's fully integrated with the world's largest social utility -- Facebook is partnering with Tippr, Opentable, ReachLocal and seven other daily deal providers to aggregate and offer merchant deals.

Questions: Tapping into our collective curiosity, Questions allows users to poll friends on any number of issues. With Questions, Facebook users receive meaningful answers from the people they know and trust. Business significance: Questions provides yet another way for a business to engage customers and gain access to critical insights that help drive product and service innovation.

View Notifications: For those of you who administer a Facebook page, there's a new way to view all of your notifications. Just click the new "View Notifications" link in the right hand column. Business significance: Facebook is making it easier for page admins to see notifications in the aggregate. One simple click gets you where you need to go to view all of your page's notifications.

Enhanced Comments: Once installed on your website or blog, Facebook's Comment Box plug-in allows users visiting your site to comment on your content and if they choose, to have their comments shared via Facebook. The enhanced feature here brings social relevance to the mix, allowing Facebook users to see comments from their friends and friends of friends before those from people they're unfamiliar with. Business significance: Deploying Facebook's Comment Box plug-in increases the likelihood that you'll experience higher levels of engagement and improve the quality of comments on your site.

Do you think these new features will help improve how you engage with customers? Let us know in the comments section.

Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.

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