Facebook is making new changes to its fan pages next month and all of us social media marketers are abuzz with anticipation. This is big stuff. Apparently the news that Facebook was changing its fan pages was actually released back in October, but somehow it’s only now catching on. (Strange considering the implications the new design has for companies on Facebook). Below is a summary of the changes, what these changes mean, and why they are happening.
• Your boxes tab is disappearing – and possibly any custom content currently housed under the boxes tab. Some are saying that the majority of your content will just be moved into tabs on your fan page, however there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on how this will happen.
• Your application tabs are changing – The tab width for all those custom tabs will shrink from 760 pixels to 520 pixels. This means, if you have built a fan page with application tabs right now, you are going to need to re-design them…pretty much immediately. No word yet as to whether un-shrunken content will be immediately deleted, or will just look strange and broken.
• Your ability to talk to your fans via their news feed is changing – your updates will only be inserted into your fans’ feed if your Facebook fan page is being visited often and if you have lots of likes and comments. Facebook has created an algorithm which will measure engagement and, rumor has it, how much Facebook advertising you purchase.
• You can get your fans’ email (kinda) – There is a new email API that allows you to collect email addresses from your fans. However this is only if you are building your own app – for now at least.
In short – it means you need to step up your game. You will be able to rely less on the custom content as Facebook continues to refine their policies. In fact, I’m guessing this won’t be the last time they make changes, so I wouldn’t put all your eggs into the “customization” basket. It all comes down to your status updates and wall posts, and they are going to have to be good. Update less often and make sure that when you do, it is something people will respond to. I’d go with making your fan page entertaining, as these days it seems people are on Facebook more and more for entertainment and less for info. (That’s what Twitter is for).
Yes, many will be upset, but Facebook is doing what it always does – looking out for its users (while trying to make a profit…hey, it’s a business after all!) Facebook was never originally about companies, and the fact that they’ve let us play at all in their sandbox is far from where they originally started. Facebook is making these changes, because they want to be different than Myspace. After Myspace was taken over by companies and intrusive advertising, it literally died. Facebook is protecting its users by making sure their feeds aren’t inundated with companies’ updates and their platform isn’t cluttered with custom content. And at the end of the day, they are also watching out for their bottom line – something I think any company can understand.
So what do you think? Are you up for the challenge that these new changes to facebook fan pages will bring?