Those of
you logging into the world’s largest social network (so, all of you) recently may
have
noticed a few changes, particularly if you’re working with
Facebook professionally.

Of course,
unexpected changes to Facebook pages are nothing new, the network
routinely
tweaks privacy settings, sharing, logins and layouts on an almost weekly
basis,
but the new additions rolled out last night are particularly important
to marketers. 

As we recently published our
How to create amazing Facebook pages’ report,  I
thought I should give you a quick rundown of the new changes, and how
you can
use them efficiently to grow your brand presence within Facebook.

So what’s new?

The first
and most obvious change is the overall page layout. Facebook has finally
listened to marketers and opened up features that regular users enjoy, giving
your brand the ability to act more like an individual from now on, including
commenting and interacting with other pages as your brand, rather than
yourself.

Head up to ‘Account’
in the top right of your page and you’ll see the option to ‘Use Facebook as
Page’:

You’ll now
notice that you have many of the features available that were previously
reserved for individual users. For
example, ‘Likes’ and comments on your page will be displayed  in the notifications bar, giving you a handy
real-time insight into activity on your page:

More
importantly, you can now visit other pages in the guise of your brand,
commenting on walls, posting pictures and videos. Basically acting like a real
live human.

In social it’s really important to give your brand a face, and this
feature will really let you inject some personality and interact more easily
with friends, affiliates (and, dare I say it –competitors).

In
addition to these on screen changes, you can now also specify landing tabs directly in your Facebook
advertising campaigns, meaning you can easily put together specific landing
pages and drive traffic more easily, a huge bonus for marketers who were
previously forced to adapt their Welcome pages to specific campaigns.

Possible problems:

As always with Facebook updates it isn’t all plain sailing. Here’s a few places you could come unstuck.

Multiple users:

More a ‘be careful’ tip than a real problem.

Remember, from now on any of your admins can choose to ‘use Facebook as page’.

If you manage a large team or have multiple logins (Econsultany’s page currently has 15 admins) then remember to remind everyone to switch back to using their own profile after they have commented or posted in a professional capacity.

It’s easy enough to imagine somebody forgetting, then randomly commenting on a friends wall in the guise of your brand, so always take extra care to remember who you are at all times!

Random
images:

Facebook
has now added the new Banner profile to pages. When this change was rolled out
to personal pages, many were quick to start playing around with the new photo
layout to create cool effects.

Unfortunately it appears that pictures posted by
your brand are in random order, so it’s a little more difficult to accomplish
than usual (although I’m sure an app will appear shortly).

In the meantime it
gives a more vibrant look to your wall, so make sure you add at least a few
interesting pictures there.

Too much
logo!

It’s worth
noting that many brands connect their twitter or blog RSS directly to their
page.

While this isn’t always best practice, it does save a lot of time if you
manage multiple pages.

Unfortunately there does seem to be a current bug,
meaning links manually posted with pictures attached may not show up in all of
your fans news streams.

Make sure you add a good RSS importer such as the RSS
Graffiti app and manage images manually; otherwise you’ll end up with a wall
full of your corporate logo, not the most inviting or engaging look.

What time
is it?

One of the
biggest problems some marketers are facing is the loss of chronological order
for wall posts
.

In an effort to make posts more relevant, Facebook now orders
wall posts by ‘most interesting’ automatically (how it decides what qualifies as interesting is anyone’s
guess, but we’re betting on interaction levels).

This will be difficult for
marketers managing competitions or using Facebook for CRM, and if you receive
any negativity on your page that requires a longer interaction to fix, it
could see these posts moved to the top of your stream, which is less than
ideal.

It does appear that Facebook have already heard the rumblings of discontent over this, and may already be working on an on/off switch for this.

Navigation:

Navigation
buttons to your tabs are now found on the left hand side of your page, exactly
as they are on personal pages.

While this makes sense to those who use Facebook
a lot, my personal opinion is that this could hide away a lot of your tabs and
disrupt traffic to some areas of your page, so make sure you manage these and
keep the right tabs clearly visible.

Conclusion:

In general
these changes are an improvement, and Facebook is continuing to play around
with things so expect extra features and options to come.

Hopefully they will
listen to marketers (and many of the changes suggest they already are) and restore
chronological order quickly, but on the whole you now have a far better ability
to spread your brand, interact more naturally with people and pages, and create
a far superior, more targeted user experience within Facebook.

EDIT: It’s also been pointed out to me on Twitter (by @adrian_johnson) that in addition, email alerts are now available whenever you receive a comment on your wall or posts.
Obviously this is great for page managers who are on the move as it massively speeds up your response time, so apologies for not including them here (In my defence I’ve had access to these for a  while now so I had assumed they were already in place and weren’t part of the main overhaul -possibly because of a staged rollout on Facebook’s part).