Facebook began offering the new fan page design yesterday and it will become mandatory sometime in March according to reports. Here’s a quick cheat sheet of some of the most important features for brands and businesses to familiarize themselves with as they manage their brand image on Facebook.
Brands can now post to Facebook as brands. This is huge.
- Posting as a Brand: The most important change is that administrators can now post throughout Facebook, on both other pages and on profiles, as the brand. This means that if a brand could potentially comment on the Facebook page of a popular television show with millions of fans and gain visibility with those fans. Conversely, a magazine or television show could comment on the pages of their advertisers to thank them for their support and again, gain additional visibility. We’ll be watching for best practices in this area. To use this feature, administrators can toggle between posting as themselves and as the brand simply by using a drop down menu at the top of the page under “account.”
- Visuals: Just as on the new profile designs, business pages will now feature the panel of five most recent photos across the top of your page. This means that brands must exercise particular care when uploading images. When another brand or individual tags a company in a photo, that photo will now appear above their newstream, giving less control of the images a business wants to show and making it more essential to have someone monitor the page regularly.
- Changing Categories: Many companies set up their fan pages using either the wrong category or one that no longer is a good fit for their growing brand. For example, a business might have been local but has grown to be regional or national. Or, a speaker with national reach might have set himself up as a company but now wants to represent himself as a “person” and a consultant. For the first time, business pages can now change their category. This changes the fields under the info link. If a person wants to be a local business, changing categories will allow him to enter store hours and location along with details on parking. If a local business wants to become a consultant, the new fields will provide spaces to share product offerings and packages.
- Featured Likes: A fan page can now, for the first time, “like” another fan page. Companies can use this feature to associate themselves with sister companies, clients, like-minded organizations and industry leaders. The pages a business page “likes” will show up on the left hand side of the brand’s page. By clicking “Edit Info” to the right of a business page name, administrators can now select a feature called “Featured Likes” and choose the top pages they want to have shown on the left hand column of their page. Again this will be useful for companies that include multiple brands and divisions.
- Featured Page Owner: Under the “Edit Info” link, business pages may now designate one or more “Featured Page Owners” to be displayed in the left hand column. This can be useful for pages with multiple voices or owners posting. This definitely gives a public and individual face to a business page, however, and for small business owners or others not wanting to share their personal profile link with the world, this is a feature to understand clearly before utilizing.
- Filtered News: This is the feature that has people concerned today and hopefully Facebook will listen to the discontent and reverse this. As of this morning, Facebook and Facebook alone controls the newsfeed of a business page, serving up posts they deem “most interesting.” This seems to create a feed where the posts with the most interactions show up first, leaving the brand without the ability to feature their newest updates first. This one new feature is counter intuitive to encouraging brands to use Facebook to promote their businesses. Without control over the order in which their messages appear to fans, a huge opportunity has opened up for outside developers to create something that better serves brands. (*UPDATE: March 5, 2011: Facebook has reverted back to allowing fan pages to post in reverse chronological order, after an uproar from users.)
Over the next week, there will be additional updates on the nuances of using Facebook fan pages to promote businesses. We’d welcome the sharing of best practices here and feel free to include links to those pages as examples. If you found this post useful, please let us know by leaving a comment.