Facebook recently changed the way that fan pages work. If you’re not already using a Facebook page for your company, you might want to read our earlier article first: Using a Facebook fan page to promote your business.
Facebook say that the changes will ‘help you manage communication, express yourself, and increase engagement’ but if you’re an administrator for a Facebook page, what exactly does that mean?
Here’s a summary of what’s changed and how it could affect - and even help - how you do business on Facebook.
Use Facebook as a page
Probably the best news is that you can now opt to navigate Facebook as your page, allowing you to more clearly separate your business persona on Facebook from your personal one. We think it will also enable you to manage your account more efficiently and talk to your fans more easily.
The ‘Use Facebook as a page’ feature allows you to see notifications, just like on your personal profile, so you can always see who’s commenting and liking your page and respond to them quickly.
You can also comment on other people’s profiles and pages as your company – really useful if you regularly interact with others on Facebook for business, and don’t want to use your personal profile (after all, most people don’t want clients finding drunken photos of them!)
Pages your company follow will now show up in your news feed when you’re using Facebook as a page. That should be handy for keeping up to date with companies who are clients, or who you’re associated with or interested in.
But a note of caution – remember to turn off the ‘Use Facebook as a page’ feature when you’ve finished doing business and revert back to using Facebook as yourself. We can foresee all sorts of horrible scenarios if you don’t…
Less control over Wall posts
This one’s a bit controversial. Posts on your Wall no longer appear in chronological order by default.
As standard, people will see ‘everyone’s’ posts to the Wall – not just those posted by the company which owns the page – and posts with more comments and likes will appear higher than those without. That’s a nice touch if you’re a visitor and want to see what’s most popular, but frustrating if you’re an admin and an old post, or a post that sparked negative comments, keeps appearing at the top.
We’ve heard rumours that there have already been lots of complaints about this, and Facebook may develop an option to be able to turn it off. So we’ll have to wait and see.
However, you can change what your Wall defaults to by clicking on Edit Page. If you want it to default to only show posts from your company, you can do, and these will then be displayed in chronological order. Of course, people might still choose to view the posts by ‘everyone’ and you can’t prevent that, but at least it gives you a bit more control.
Tabs are no longer tabs, and FBML is going
The tabs that used to appear across the top of your page are no more. Facebook have moved them to the left menu to be consistent with profile pages, and because it’s where people expect to see them, say Facebook.
We can see their reasons for doing this. After all, plenty of usability studies have shown that most people expect navigation menus to be on the left. But with the left column in Facebook being so cluttered generally, we can’t help wondering whether they will be less noticeable down there. I guess we’ll have to wait and use Facebook Insights before we pass judgement.
The other change to tabs, is that from 11 March, FBML can no longer be used to customise your tabs.
For those of you who aren’t sure what we mean, customising tabs is something that administrators have been able to do for a while. It’s enabled people to create landing pages for their fan page that show up as the default ‘home page’, as well as allowing people to add extra tabs for things like videos, clients, or special offers.
The changes to pages won’t prevent you from customising tabs, but you will now have to customise them using iframes instead of Facebook’s own version of HTML code (FBML).
If you want to find out how to add an iframe app, see Facebook’s article: http://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/462
Latest photos feature prominently
Like the new profiles, the latest photos will now be shown in a strip at the top of your page. Photos that appear here are those that have been posted on your wall most recently or that you have tagged your page in.
The plus points are that it makes your page more visually interesting and dynamic. The negatives are that you might end up with photos featuring prominently on your page that you don’t necessarily want to be highlighted.
But don’t panic. You can hide photos easily by hovering over them and clicking the X. And thankfully perhaps, the strip won’t include ones posted by your fans!
Like other pages
Other pages your company likes will show up in the left menu and you can choose who to feature here. It might be a useful way of loosely associating yourself with another company, showing your support for charitable causes, or maybe even promoting other parts of your business which have separate pages. So we quite *ahem* ‘like’ this feature.
Facebook will automatically upgrade all pages to the new layout in March, but you can already upgrade your page now. You should see an option when you login and navigate to your page. If you haven’t got a Facebook fan page yet and want to see what the new version looks like, visit our Facebook page – we’ve just upgraded.
You might also want to see Facebook’s official, updated manual for creating and using pages.
So what do you think? Love or hate the changes? Let us know in the comments below.