Facebook Changes Explained And How They Affect Business Marketing (Part 1)

Facebook F8 Conference

Facebook Changes Before & During F8

Are you wondering how the Facebook changes are going to impact your company’s social media marketing?

Would you like to get a summary of the changes?

This post (broken into two parts due to the many changes) will walk you through many of the new features, new displays and new ways of sharing your experiences.  There may be differing opinions in the public about whether these changes are for the better.  What should not be up for debate is that the changes require businesses to pay closer attention to their Facebook marketing strategy.

Time will tell exactly how these changes will affect marketing your business.  But this post will provide a comprehensive description of the changes and how to effectively manage them to stay on top of your Facebook marketing.

News Feed Combined Into A One, User Controlled Stream

There are no longer tabs for Most Recent and Top News.  They have been changed to Top Stories and Recent Stories and all reside in one stream with any Top Stories appearing above Recent Stories.  Stories that will go in the News Feed are user created objects such as status updates, pictures, videos, links, etc.  Top Stories (denoted by a blue corner) are posts that Facebook deems important to you since the last time you logged on.  You can click on the blue corner to change a post from a top story and not a top story.  Additionally, each story has a box at the upper right that helps a user control what is seen.  In this box, a user can “Unmark as a top story” (and vice versa) helping Facebook learn the type of content that is more relevant to a user over time.  For instance, if you unmark a post as a Top Story, then Facebook will show you less posts from that person.


Using Facebook News Feed For Business Marketing

In my recent post on tips for maximizing your Facebook page exposure through News Feed Optimization, I went through 7 steps to get your content seen by more people and increase your fan base.  These strategies are important because statistics show that 90% of people interact with brand pages through the News Feed and do not go back to the actual fan page.  All of these practices still hold true, but with the recent changes, it is more important than before to deliver on #1: Generate Content That is Valuable to Your Customers.  This is because, as discussed above, users now have more control than before on what is shown.  Therefore, businesses that don’t deliver quality content or sell themselves can, and most likely will, be screened out.  Since the changes were implemented, I have experienced and have been hearing stories of drops in impressions, thus less exposure.  But I have noticed higher feedback percentages.  So the overall effect is still in question, but again, focus on quality content.

A Real-Time Ticker Displays Activity Posts

The Ticker is a mini-feed on the top right hand of your profile that will show posts real-time.  Mark Zuckerberg described this as an area for “lightweight” news or Activity Stories (these will be updates/posts that Facebook decides are not significant enough for the News Feed, such as friends commenting on posts, liking a page, attending an event, app activity, etc).  But you can still click on one of these quick posts to see a hover card, which displays the full story.  Also, every action a user takes on a fan page will appear in the Ticker.  This actually creates some benefits as friends of fans can see that their friends liked a page and are able to easily like it from the Ticker as well.  Furthermore, your business’s posts get a new life every time someone takes an action on it as it will appear in the Ticker again.  Thus, every time someone likes/comments/shares a post, it is pushed back into the Ticker of their Friends.  This includes any actions taken by yourself.


Facebook Ticker w/ hover card

Since liking a page no longer will appear in the News Feed and only in the Ticker, there may be a decrease in exposure amongst friends of your fans, but this can be offset by the extended life as discussed above.  To try and mitigate this effect, in addition to the reminder to create valuable content above, you can ask some quick questions or ask for comments.  Interesting/entertaining questions that don’t require a lot of effort to respond to will increase your chances of getting seen by friends of fans in the Ticker as people interact with your post.  Also, ask for people to “Like this post” or “Comment if you agree”.  Also encourage people to “Share on your Page/Timeline” to let other people know.  These little reminders tend to work.  However try to think of creative and different ways to encourage actions so the calls to action do not get stale.  Also, if someone leaves a comment on your post, you can go back later and like that comment resulting in another view in the Ticker.  A side note…liking someone’s comment or responding to them with a personal Thank You builds a nice relationship with that person.  This is important because at the end of the day, social media is all about relationship building.

Smart Lists Are Developed To Help Users Filter Content

In an answer to Google+’s Circles, Facebook has created Smart Lists.  Smart Lists allow users to have more control of, among other things, whose updates they see and who can see their posts.  Facebook creates default lists such as those based on common work, geography and academic profiles.  However, a user can edit Facebook Smart Lists at any time as well as create a brand new list.


Facebook Smart Lists Marketing

Because each Smart List has its own News Feed, there is even greater competition for eyeballs as some users might be inclined to go directly to the stories generated in a Smart List if they are short on time or are just not interested in Facebook’s determination for Top Stories.  So once again, make your content great!  Also, you can add fan pages to a Smart List so maybe encourage your fans to create a list for pages.

Timeline Allows You To Present Your Complete Life Story

One of the highlights from Facebook’s annual F8 conference was the introduction of Timeline as the new profile.  Mark Zuckerberg described the goal of Timeline as enabling people to express themselves in a new way.  Check out the video below to see what it will look like.

Facebook auto populates your Timeline so make sure you know how to use Timeline to make any edits.  Facebook planned a phased roll out starting 10/1/2011.  However, you can install Facebook Timeline now.

The introduction of the Timeline for personal profiles should not have much of an impact on your business’s Facebook marketing strategy if you are a small business.  If a user likes your page, it still appears in their likes section and shows up as a Recent Activity post.  Not much interaction occurs with a company on a user’s profile.  However, with the other big F8 announcement, Open Graph, bigger brands will be able get their content seen via apps that will have seamless updates into a users Ticker and potentially into their Timeline.  Look at these 7 ways to use Open Graph for marketing.

While there is no official announcement (yet) of fan pages being converted, you can see how businesses could use Timeline to convey their story and connect with fans in a new and much more visual way.  Timeline will allow businesses to create a more compelling story and provide a sleek platform for sharing important content and company information.  For instance, if you posted pictures/videos from events over the past several months or even years, a user most likely won’t see it because they don’t want to scroll down past all the other noise to get to it.  With Timeline, you can create a visual company identity that takes little effort by users to view because of the two-column layout and the ability of the brand to hide certain posts and feature others.  Timeline will allow your company to easily and quickly let potential customers about your brand identity.

A quick note, if you are a small business owner, you can use your personal Timeline cover to promote your business in an innovative way.

Email Notification Reductions Could Delay Brand Response

This is one change that tends to be overlooked but I find to be very important.  Facebook is attempting to send you less email.  I assume in an attempt to annoy you a little less.

If you manage a Facebook page, you may have noticed that you stopped getting instant email notifications of comments to your wall.  This could potentially be dangerous if a negative comment is posted and sits out there too long because you were not manually checking your page frequently.  I know I rely on these notifications to respond to fans in a timely fashion.  You can go into your “Account Settings”, then “Notifications” to change it by unchecking the “Email Frequency” box at the upper right.  You can scroll down below to customize email notifications.

Due to the large amount of changes, I broke this post into two parts.  In the next installment, we will describe the following…

  • Subscribe Button
  • Share Button
  • 5,000 character limit
  • Real-Time, targeted ads
  • Interacting with and Tagging A Page No Longer Requires A Like
  • Friend Activity
  • Also On
  • Removal of Discussion & Reviews
  • Secured Hosting Requirement For Custom Tabs

Come back so you don’t miss the rest.  Also, please leave additional ideas for marketing in this new Facebook world as well as share what you are seeing with your pages.

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