True to form, Facebook has powered forward with one of their habits that makes them everybody’s biggest love/hate relationship on the internet.
The recent change to their “Pages” format, to reflect the “timeline” format now present in individual profiles, have many organizations scrambling to both understand the changes and figure out how to best exploit them. (remember the term “pages” refers to what we often refer to as “Fan pages” or “Business pages” and not individual profiles). As of March 30th 2012, the ‘forced’ changes will be complete and the manner in which business’ can display their wares will be changed forever. Whether the new format is an improvement or not remains to be seen but regardless, it is the concept of having to take a step back on the learning curve that has many people frustrated.
I’ve always touted that we need to embrace these changes and keep in mind that Facebook offers a free marketing tool and complaining about how they provide us with that tool is akin to looking a gift horse square in the chops. But with a change like this you have to take into account the many dollars that organizations may have spent on programmers and designers to get their pages to look their best – that is to say that the “use” use of Facebook is free to even the largest and best-resoursed companies, but the “set up” of their pages, at least if they want to be competitive, can be quite costly. Facebook provides a free canvas but companies still need to pay for the paint and the artist.
Here’s what I mean. Look at this great page that Kraft foods set up by clicking here. I can’t imagine what the expense was to produce this page was and I can imagine, based on the traffic, that it has been quite popular and likely effective for Kraft. Under the old format, Kraft could have this display as the first thing a new visitor would see… not anymore. Kraft could still have that fantastic page but it would need to be buried and would not be the first thing that a user sees.
So what does a user now see and how can an organization take full advantage of Facebook for marketing their products? I will use one of my FaceTracks Artists, Tom Taylor to best illustrate the changes.
The first peek of a new page now features a large dramatic image similar to what we have on the timeline of our personal profiles only bigger (click on any of the thumbnails of Tom’s image to see the actual page). Automatically embedded in the lower left of the image is the page’s profile picture – again, similar to what we are now doing on our own timelines. Below the new big picture and to the right we see a row of “tabs” which used to be listed vertically on the left side of the page and you can see that for Tom we have added “Music”, “Videos”, and “Events”. The photos and Likes are there by default and the order of the tabs can be moved around (except for the photos which stay pinned to the left). Important to note that with the big photo, Facebook has now placed some rules on what can be included. They are listed as:
Image cannot include
- Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
- Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section
- References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
- Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”
If you click on the “music” tab (click on the thumbnail if you do not already have the page open) you will see that this is where Facebook lets you take over and do pretty such whatever you want (much like what Kraft did above). For Tom we have a CD graphic where you can sample music as well as a music e-store below. What we are doing here is pretty much pasting in a web page and, as such, you can do pretty much anything that you want to do on a web page with just a few exceptions. This is actually a big jump from the old format because the page is much bigger (810 pixels wide compared to the old 520) and can go as long (deep) as the creator wants.
The new pages have a few clever tricks that happen below all of the new dramatic stuff at the top. In the pages timeline you can choose to “highlight” an item and have them display the full width (look down the page a bit to where I have done this with one of Tom’s videos). You can also “pin” an item so that it remains at the top of the news feed which is handy if you want to display a new product and have it stay in a prominent position.
So are all of these changes good or bad? I’m not sure how companies like Kraft will feel about it based on some of the backtracking they will have to do but I think most will feel that this gives a a better platform to display an organizations products or services – Once you figure it out!