I know, I know. Another day, another update to Facebook business pages.
This one is a bit larger than most though, and may have some interesting effects on your content.
So let’s dig in to the new business page format before it rolls out to the entire network on June 19th.
If the update reaches you before that date, Facebook will ask if you’d like to switch. Unlike previous updates like the introduction of Timeline, this one won’t require you to massively update your content.
Your header image will still work, as will your apps. However they will be repositioned so may require a little housekeeping. We’ll look at that in a moment.
First of all, here’s how the new page looks when you are logged in as a page manager:
As you can see, the old management panel has vanished, with analytics, insights and messages neatly arranged along the top.
At first I thought these were drop-downs, but clicking them actually takes you to a new page. Analytics thankfully remain untouched for the moment, saving you the hassle of reorganising your reporting, but messages are arranged in a larger, clearer format:
This makes things much easier for customer service (I’ve blanked out the names in the screenshot to protect the innocent, with the exception of Kwatro Bong, he regularly sends us spam messages and frankly his little smiling face cheers me up no end).
There’s a larger change over on the right side of the page, with reach figures and notifications bundled together, making it faster to see who has been sharing your content or posting links on your page.
This is a vast improvement, as it was previously easy to forget to switch between ‘highlights’, ‘posts by page’ and ‘posts by others’.
Something else of interest on the right is the ‘Build Audience’ dropdown. Initially I assumed this would take me to an ad panel, and while that option is available, the ‘Import Contacts’ option is more prominently displayed:
This gives you an option to upload an audience of up to 5,000 email contacts. A data-gathering exercise on Facebook’s part, but also something with a lot of potential for spam. Use with extreme caution please.
Moving down the page, your ‘occupation’ is listed more prominently (We’re currently a Marketing Consultant. We aren’t really, but Publisher/Events Company/Research House/Insight Specialist/Community wasn’t available). Make sure you update this if needed.
You’ll also notice your apps have been repositioned to the left of the page:
Facebook recently made a small algorithm tweak to app based sharing. Content that is automatically shared from apps (I took this quiz! But I didn’t specifically ask it to tell all my friends!) will take a visibility hit.
Just for clarity, this doesn’t affect content shared specifically, so posts you’ve scheduled via systems like Hootsuite won’t be affected. A good move that should help cut spam.
This is important, as it shows Facebook yet again moving focus onto content in the main stream. Ah yes, let’s look at that shall we?
Praise be. A simple, easily scannable single-column format.
We may have gotten used to timeline’s multi-column format, but there’s no denying that it dragged your user’s eyeballs all over the place. The return of one column focuses attention on your content.
There’s also a more visible focus on reach, with a clear bar chart outlining organic and paid reach at the bottom of each post, further evidence of Facebook’s renewed focus on ads:
It’s also worth mentioning that the number of Likes is now being downplayed a little. Curious after being the main impetus of Facebook for so long, but I’m inclined to be positive and suggest that maybe Facebook is making a subtle hint that it’s… well, a bullshit metric a lot of the time.
Apps still count, and they’re also available from the ‘More’ dropdown as well as the sidebar, but the focus is on the stream. I can’t underline the importance of this enough.
One slight point of confusion here is that the ‘Highlight’ option is still available. Previously Highlighted content spread out across both columns, but now it has nowhere to go, so it remains the same, bar a little blue star.
Yet more focus on content
Facebook’s changes have put a relentless focus on this. No more cheating I’m afraid, and while apps are still useful for campaigns, it’s clear that the platform wants brands to take in the bigger picture.
Deep, interesting, entertaining content is the only way to win at Facebook.
There are pros and cons to this. It will make it harder to compete for many small businesses who have limited time and investment, but from Facebook’s point of view it positions the platform more effectively as a publisher, and for those making good content it promise a much deeper relationship with users (For everyone else, there’s the renewed promise of advertising), which ultimately means more profit.
It’s also worth noting that the single column is indicative of the growing importance of mobile for Facebook, and the platform’s desire to standardise across devices. Ultimately this is a good thing as it will remove formatting problems when posting content.
You should see the option to switch to the new format within the next couple of weeks.