Facebook recently released its latest update for Facebook Pages, which includes a refreshed layout, new features, expanded moderation capabilities and Page Policy changes. Brands can now preview their Pages with the upgrade or opt to complete the upgrade before all Pages are automatically transitioned March 10.
The upgrade is extensive, and so is this blog post. You might say this is Braveheart compared to The Office in terms of its size compared to traditional posts, but there’s a lot to cover. If you stick with it, this should tell you everything you need to know.
The upgrade expands and/or adds new capabilities in several areas:
- Layout Design
- Moderation Capabilities
- Page Policies
- Added Photo Strip
- Tab Design Replaced with Sidebar Links
- Moved About Blurb
- End of FBML
Added Photo Strip
A photo strip resembling the photo strip on Facebook personal profiles now appears at the top of Facebook Pages to display photos your brand has tagged itself in or uploaded. It will not display photos added by your Page’s Likers.
It’s important to note that because these photos display randomly (unlike personal profiles, where photos are organized in chronological order), brands should monitor and be aware of what images are stored in their photo albums. Photos can be removed from the photo strip simply by hovering over the photo and clicking the “X.” Photos can be deleted entirely from the site by visiting the photo album.
Why It’s Important: Facebook is used as much for sharing photos as it is for connecting with others. In fact, 3 billion photos are uploaded every month. Now, photos play a more prominent role on Pages and profiles, which means brands should consider which photos to tag themselves in and which photos to upload. With prime placement at the front and center of the Page, the photo strip often will be a consumer’s first impression when visiting a brand’s Page.
Tab Design Replaced with Sidebar Links
Page navigation was previously done via tabs at the top of a Facebook Page. With the Pages update, tabs have been replaced by links beneath the brand’s profile picture on the left side of the Page. In addition, the maximum profile picture size has been reduced from 200(w) x 600(h) pixels to 180 x 540 pixels.
Why It’s Important: Replacing tabs with text links beneath the profile picture may mean less visibility for tabs you may want to call attention to (e.g., Deals tab, contests, e-mail sign-up, etc.). Setting your brand’s profile picture to the maximum height may push the text links “below the fold,” forcing users with certain screen resolutions to scroll down to view the navigation. While the new text links do allow for longer “tab” names, moving them to a less prominent position on the Page may result in less frequent user interaction.
In addition, only six tabs can be displayed without the user clicking “More.” It’s essential to order the tabs by importance to ensure they’re given appropriate prominence.
Moved About Blurb
To make room for the links to a brand’s various tabs, the About blurb has been moved from the Wall to the Info tab.
Why It’s Important: The About blurb previously served as a brand’s “elevator pitch,” giving users a brief description of what the brand is all about. Leveraging the Info tab or a customized landing tab will be more important than ever to provide new, potential Likers with information on the brand and Page.
End of FBML
Facebook Markup Language (FBML), which has been used to develop custom tabs, will be replaced by iFrames. FBML will be phased out on March 11, meaning businesses will no longer be able to create new applications using FBML or add static FBML tabs, although existing FBML tabs will be able to remain on Pages with Facebook’s full support.
Why It’s Important: iFrames add a deeper level of functionality and measurement to custom Facebook applications. A few of iFrames’ key features include:
- Ability for developers to use their own code to design the application, leading to better design
- Increased capabilities for incorporating tracking and analytics tools to allow brands to measure and optimize Pages more effectively
- Fewer limitations on what can be done on Facebook in terms of functionality, interactivity and overall development
Third-party developers like Buddy Media and Vitrue that provide turn-key solutions for tab creation will need to update their individual platforms for iFrames.
- Options for Wall Filtering
- How You Interact as the Brand
- Responding as Yourself
- Featured Page Owners
Options for Wall Filtering
Brands now have two options for filtering Wall content: Everyone and Page-only. With the “Everyone” option, Facebook places the most interacted with posts at the top of the Page, rather than featuring posts in chronological order. The “Page-only” option means that only the brands’ posts will be displayed.
To make moderation easier and more efficient, Page admins can click “Admin view” to see the most recent posts in reverse chronological order.
Why It’s Important: The Wall is the most important Facebook tool for brands. The most successful Pages offer relevant and engaging content that brings consumers back for repeat visits. Facebook’s latest functionality allows the content that resonates the most to be the center of attention, making it more likely a Liker will find something worthwhile when interacting with a brand’s Page.
How You Interact as the Brand
A new feature offers brand Pages Wall-posting functionality more like user profiles. Brands can now post on the Page Walls of other brands (e.g., Starbucks posting on IKEA’s Wall), “Like” the comments of other brands, allow other brands to write on their Page’s Walls and even “Like” other Pages. Brands can only write on the Walls of other Pages, not on the Walls of user profiles.
When brands “Like” other Pages, they can display which Pages they have liked under the “Featured” section. Featured “Likes” can be edited in the Page’s settings.
Why It’s Important: This Wall-posting functionality allows brands to demonstrate their partnerships more easily and cross-promote content. Family brands and partnership organizations can now interact with each other, leading to opportunities to create engagements between Pages, build off of each other’s Likers and co-brand content. However, cross-brand efforts should be done with discretion and not with the intention to steal Likers or to selfishly capitalize on another Page’s success.
The potential downside to permitting brand Wall posts is that it provides an opportunity for spam and posts from competitors to display on your Page. Recognizing this possibility, Facebook’s new moderation tools (outlined below) can help mitigate this risk.
Responding as Yourself
Admins can choose to write on their own Page’s Wall either as the brand or as themselves through their personal profiles.
Why It’s Important: The option to engage as yourself adds a deeper level of personal interaction—a response coming from a person versus a company. However, if brand employees choose to use their personal profiles, they must exercise full disclosure since their association with the brand will not be as apparent.
Featured Page Owners
With the previous version, unless Page admins made concerted efforts to educate Likers, Page visitors did not know who spoke on behalf of the brand. Facebook has made this communication easier by adding an optional Featured Page Owners function that allows brands to select any number of Page admins to be featured on the Page.
Why It’s Important: Brands who want to add another touch of personality to their Page—beyondcreating a tab or adding additional copy—now have a built-in feature to do so. Plus, brands can choose who they want to feature if there are multiple admins. One option is to feature the community manager and keep other admins anonymous.
- E-mail Notifications
Under the Manage Permissions menu of a Page’s settings, the new Moderation Blocklist and Profanity Blocklist are available.
The Moderation Blocklist allows admins to flag certain keywords as “spam” and require admin approval before posting Wall messages with those keywords. The Profanity Blocklist can be set from none to medium to strong, depending on admin preference.
Why It’s Important: The larger a Page gets, the more likely spam and other undesirable language will be posted to the Wall. Facebook implemented these moderation tools to help admins rest easier, but these tools do not replace checking the Page regularly “by hand.”
Page admins can now receive e-mail notifications when people post to their Facebook Page. These e-mails can be toggled on or off, depending on admin preference.
Why It’s Important: Notifications will make it easier for brands with a smaller number of Likers to be more responsive and stay on top of their Page’s developments. However, admins for Pages with larger numbers of Likers may find this feature overwhelming and a cause for e-mail inbox overflow. Whether notifications are turned on or off, it still will be important to check the Page regularly.
- Automatic Media Plays Not Allowed
- Restrictions on Access to Information
Automatic Media Plays Not Allowed
Facebook’s platform and page policies have been updated to restrict applications on Pages from hosting media that plays automatically without a user interaction.
Why It’s Important: Facebook’s new iFrame development process allows brands to create more complex tab experiences, including automatically playing media. However, Facebook expressly forbids media from playing without the user taking an action, such as a “click.”
Restrictions on Access to Information
Users must give explicit permission for a Facebook application or Page to have access to personal information. The example Facebook provides is that applications cannot use external sources of information to “customize the user’s experience” unless explicit consent is provided by the user. In addition, a user’s actions on a Page cannot be used out of the context of the Page by, for example, customizing the user’s experience on your website after interacting with your brand Page without explicit consent.
Why It’s Important: Facebook’s policies change on a consistent basis, and they favor the user, not brands. It’s essential that brands understand these policies and guidelines in order to prevent reprisal from Facebook.
Facebook’s changes are much more than a redesign. They’ve changed much of the way Pages work, and the changes are for the better. Management is easier, brands are more interactive and they offer more opportunities to for brands to showcase themselves than before.
The important step right now is to prepare for the March 10 upgrade by:
- Touring the new Facebook Pages here.
- Changing any plans to execute special tabs in FBML to executin them using iFrames.
- Preparing photos to display int he photo strip.
- Identifying keywords that should be included in your blocklist.
- Ensuring proper parties are trained on the changes.
- Keeping in mind that once your Page is upgraded, it cannot be reverted back.
- Visiting Facebook's FAQ on Pages here.