With all the hoopla over Mark Zuckerberg's announcement last week that change is coming to Facebook, you’d think the sky was falling. A slew of new features have caused consumers and brands alike to once again proclaim that Facebook can’t leave well enough alone.
While modifications to its interface have always caused some level of heartburn among its users, Facebook has continuously demonstrated that it knows what it’s doing. Its membership -- including businesses and brands -- has always increased after changes were announced, as have revenues collected from advertisers and others who use the site to market to consumers.
Still, if you’re wondering exactly how the latest revamp affects your business or brand, here’s a short list of changes you need to be aware of:
Frictionless Sharing: Facebook’s new social/activity plugin (available to developers via Open Graph) may drive even more traffic to your site. Once installed on your website and enabled by a Facebook member, anytime a user visits your website, a notification of that visit – in the form of a "read" notification – can be sent back to Facebook where it’s shared on the user’s profile page and Wall, as well through the Facebook News Feed. Privacy advocates will surely contend this sort of automatic (i.e., frictionless) sharing goes too far, but since the user is always in charge of his or her Privacy settings, I see no reason to cry harm or suggest foul play.
Comments on Pages: Any Facebook member can now comment on a business or brand Page, regardless of whether they "Like" the Page. This change, which is a significant departure from the "Like to Comment" rule that Facebook had employed until now, opens conversation on branded Pages to many more users, which can draw more potential customers into the fold or cause a moderation nightmare on account of anyone now being able to comment on your Page whenever they want.
Friend Activity: By the end of September, users should see a Friend Activity tab on the Pages they Like that shows those going to your Page the Likes and Comments on posts as well as any mention of the Page by friends. The thinking here is fairly straightforward -- the more personalized the Page, the more interest in visiting and interacting with the business or brand.
Status Update Character Limit: By increasing the status update character limit to 5,000 from 420, Facebook appears to be catering to those businesses and brands that have important long-form content to share with those who visit their page or read their updates via the News Feed.
Per Post Metrics: It used to be that Facebook Page administrators could only see per-post engagement and impression metrics when viewing self-published items on their Wall or in the News Feed. With the addition of Per Post metrics -- available when exporting Insights via Microsoft Excel -- businesses and brands can now track how they’re doing in the aggregate and as a part of exported Insight reports.
Sound of Music: Facebook has launched a Music dashboard that enables tune-oriented users to quickly discover what their closest friends are listening to as well as the most listened-to albums and top singles. That means multitudes of music listeners will now pirouette to Facebook for their tunes, meaning more people will use Facebook more often, and that, in turn could boost traffic to your Page.
How do you think Facebook's Facelift will affect your business? Leave a comment and let us know.
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.