Fresh ALERT: Facebook Changes Business Page Design

Update: We have confirmed the migration date is March 10th vs. March 1st. We have also confirmed that the custom tab width is NOT changing and will remain at 520 pixels.

Our friends over at Facebook have once again “surprised us” with changes to Page design. To be fair, they had communicated a few months ago that Pages would at some point change to be consistent with the personal profile design changes they implemented in December, 2010. Unfortunately, not everything was clearly explained and in some cases what they said a few months ago is no longer accurate. These new changes will impact how Pages are designed and managed so we wanted to make sure our clients and friends were in the know. Facebook has started a FAQ list for your reference. A very helpful article we found thanks to our friend Laura Watkins is over at Inside Facebook. Here are the resources we are reviewing that Facebook has provided: Pages manual, Change benefits , Pages Resource Center.

You can elect to upgrade to the new design now through March 10th, 2011. On March 10th, all Pages will automatically change to the new design.

The Good….

Post as business

A Page administrator can now log-in to Facebook as their business page and therefore post/comment/interact as their Page vs. your personal profile. In the past, you were only allowed to comment as your business on your branded Page.  As an example…I’m a business page administrator for Pepsi. I see all kinds of other people talking about Pepsi on their personal walls or on other business/fan pages. I want to respond to those posts and comments as Pepsi not as Lisa Nicholson Qualls. Up til now I didn’t have an option to respond as Pepsi except on the Pepsi Page wall. Now, I can respond all over Facebook as Pepsi.

This feature also allows me to “like” pages as my Page instead of my personal profile. If I happen to manage multiple Pages this allows me to be logged in as one Page and “like”, “post” and view “insights” for just that business. If I want to switch to operating as a different Page, I can simply go to my account settings, select “use Facebook as a Page” and change to the page I need. Prior to this change, I had to “like” pages through my personal account leaving my news feed overwhelmed with updates.

Notifications

Page administrators can now turn on email alerts to help them manage their Pages. In the past I was limited with getting alerts for only my personal profile…now I can set up my settings to have alerts sent for each Page I administer.

Wall Filter

The Page administrator can choose to have Page posts only displayed OR they can show Everyone’s posts based on Facebook’s algorithm to select most relevant information. Facebook states that relevancy will be determined by the post’s geographic and language nature, the timeliness of the post and volume of likes and comments a post has received. The most relevant posts will remain at the top of your page until something more relevant is posted.

The OK….

iFrame vs. FBML Custom Tabs/Applications

A growing trend on Facebook is for businesses to have “custom” tabs design and developed to better captivate and engage Page visitors. These “custom” tabs had to be developed using “FBML” code which had its own good and bad but was something you got used to if you were doing any FB customization at all. FB has now announced that they now support iFrame coding which in many ways should make custom tab and application development a bit easier. However, instead of giving developers an either/or option they are REQUIRING all custom development be done in iFrame as early as March 11, 2011. What has us uneasy is Facebook is “strongly encouraging” all existing FBML tabs be converted to iFrame tabs ASAP. We speculate this could become a requirement by Facebook in an effort to get rid of FBML all together as early as this summer.

The “ugh”…

New Layout

For those of you who have gotten used to and like the personal page layout changes implemented in December then you may be ok with the new layout. We weren’t fans of the layout changes in December and still aren’t fans today. Moving the tabs from the top page navigation to the left side bar makes them hard to see and possibly easily forgotten. Many companies and non-profits have gone to great strides to personalize these tabs to provide their customers, visitors and community members rich information, media, and interaction opportunities. By minimizing the tab visibility, it will be less likely that page visitors will click around as much as they would if the tabs were on the top of the page. We will be keeping a close eye on page analytics/insights to see if and how traffic on the page changes with the new layout.

Pictures

Lastly, since tabs have now been moved to the left sidebar, Facebook now has pictures posted on the top of the page…just like our personal pages have been since December. Some of our business pages did not have many pictures loaded as we integrated in Flickr and/or used video. Therefore, when we took a tour of what the new page would look like there were only profile pics displayed or empty thumbnails. We have also noticed that the thumbnail views don’t always scale appropriately cutting off pictures in the wrong place. The good news is you can easily hide pictures from being displayed on the wall. On the “ugh” end, this new feature will require some work to make sure pictures are loaded, that they scale correctly in the thumbnail and that as new pictures are added that they go through an evaluation process to make sure they look “good” on the home page.

What we tell our clients…

Obviously changes are going to have to be considered and implemented.  We encourage at least 10 quality pictures that represent your brand, products/services, customers and/or employees be uploaded and tagged to your page. All pictures need to be tested for thumbnail scaling for wall display with those not passing the test being selected as “hidden.” You may also want to considering converting your FBML custom tabs to an iFrame solution. If pictures do not exist then this may be a good time for a photo shoot. We are offering discounted hourly rates to ease the burden of these required changes to previous project-based clients. For our retainer clients we are including any necessary FB updates as part of their monthly package.

We know change can be challenging and want to make sure we do what we can to make it as seamless and painless as possible. It doesn’t matter to us if you are a past, current or soon to be client, if we can help answer any questions regarding these changes please give us a call at 816.359.3554, leave us a comment or catch us on Twitter at @freshid.

Be who you are and learn to be better,

Lisa