Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stories are In, Tabs are Out

By now everyone will be aware that by the end of this month Facebook will be rolling out some major changes across all brand pages.

So just what are these changes and what do they mean for people managing brand pages?

Layout – All brand pages will soon adopt the new timeline layout that has already been rolled out across our personal profile pages. These changes seem to be about offering more options to convey the brand’s identity with the ability to load a larger cover image across the top of the page, and the ability to load retrospective company milestones to the timeline ie. company ‘birth’ date or key product launches.

There are also a number of cool new features that have been introduced to the wall, my favourite being the ability to ‘pin’ an important wallpost to the top of your wall so that key wallposts maintain premium positioning on the wall. You can also highlight certain important wallposts along your timeline to span the full width of your wall which could be used to highlight a certain milestone or successful campaign. Primarily it will be potential new fans who are considering liking the page, who will benefit from these new features, rather than existing fans who tend to do most of their interaction with brands from within their own news feeds.

Page Tabs – One of the biggest changes for me is the death of the default homepage tab. I can no longer set a tab or application as my default homepage, which was useful during a campaign when using a promo tab or launching an application. This is where the new wallpost features ie. ‘pinned posts’ will become very handy. Obviously you will still be able to direct ads straight to a tab or app’s unique URL, but it can no longer be the first port of call for new visitors finding their way to your page by other means. This was done possibly to discourage the practice of fan-gating entry to a page.

In addition, tabs and apps will no longer be given prominence down the left-hand menu of a page. These will instead display along the top right-hand side of a brand page, where four customisable icons will represent the four key tabs for a brand page, with the rest to feature within a dropdown menu.

Why the reduced emphasis on apps and tabs? There seems to be an attempt to move away from anything that draws people away from the wall, where most social interaction happens between fans and brands, bringing the focus back to brand ‘stories’.

Messaging - Another feature that will help brands to manage the conversations on their wall is the ability for fans to message pages directly. This allows the opportunity for pages to take certain conversations - of maybe a more customer service nature - offline, and will also help to minimise timeline ‘clutter’.

Overall the changes seem promising, pushing pages to focus more on creating and sharing great content that people are going to want to share and interact with. Now that the page designs have been standardised, it will be great content that will help your brand page to stand out, without any fan gates or apps to hide behind.

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