As a social strategist, I help our clients incorporate social media into their marketing plans as well as strengthen and manage their online communities. A big part of my job is to demystify the ever-growing, ever-changing, and all-mighty Social Media. So when I popped open my email a few weeks ago to find an invitation from the most widely used of all social platforms, Facebook, to take a trip to their headquarters, to say that I was excited would be putting it lightly.
As a daily user of Facebook and other social platforms, navigating their constant changes is typically manageable for me…somewhat normal, really. But anytime there is an opportunity to hear the story straight from the horse’s mouth, it’s an opportunity worth taking!
The event that I attended was called Social 4 Local. Facebook invited representatives from small businesses throughout the Bay Area to learn how to best harness the power of the social platform. Going into it, I didn’t have a lot of information about what was going to be covered. I assumed that they would be announcing the same kind of big, sweeping changes that we’ve been seeing within Facebook Profiles.
I’m sure that we all know: Facebook is always changing. The best part is that not only do they admit it, they promise it! All three of the Facebook executives that we heard from that day spoke to one of their mission statements: “We’re only 1% done.”
While they weren’t especially transparent about any huge, blatant changes to the look and feel of Pages, they did imply an underlying motivation for all of their changes: engagement.
This couldn’t have made me more happy. With all of the fancy custom applications and pages and bells and whistles available on the web within social media platforms and outside of them, it’s easy for businesses to get distracted from the entire underlying purpose of social media. Social media is not meant to serve as a billboard; it is meant to extend your reach to engage more and more people. It’s meant to make business about relationships and to make even the largest of corporations approachable. In social media, all it takes is one person, the right person, to have a profound effect on your business.
I see Facebook’s latest changes to both profiles & Business Pages as a giant leap in the right direction towards making your time on Facebook a more personal experience.
Since leaving the event, I’ve watched as Facebook has implemented subtle, pointed changes to their Pages. Here are the 5 that I think have the most powerful affect on your ability as a business to engage your audience:
Change #1: Get a Better Head Start
It used to be that you could only invite the Friends of your Facebook Profile to like your business page. NOW, you can also invite everyone on your email list. This gives you a bit more of a jumping point for building your base as many of us have bigger email lists than we do friend-counts on Facebook.
Change #2: Shift Focus Back to the Wall
For a long time, we’ve watched Facebook play a mean game of “anything you can do, I can do better.” Yelp excels in reviews….Facebook adds a Reviews Tab. Google+ launches Circles…Facebook unveils Lists. Now, Facebook is (wisely) stepping back and saying, Wait, we already do something really well: it’s called the Facebook Wall.
The fact that 4,000,000,000 (yes, that’s nine zeros, as in Billion!) pieces of information are shared on people’s Walls every single day is nothing to scoff at. As of October 31st, Facebook will be taking away two distractions from the Wall: Reviews & Discussions.
Change #3: Say Goodbye to Automation
This is one of my favorite of all of the changes that we’ve been seeing recently. Moving Facebook Page users away from auto-posting is something that I drive my clients away from doing every single day! This also speaks to the idea that Facebook is NOT supposed to be a billboard. In order to best engage in meaningful conversations and relationships with your online communities, take the time to write a short introduction to any links (or videos, or events, or anything else) that you share on Facebook.
Effective October 31st, the RSS Importer App and autoposting to Notes from your website will also be going away.
Change #4: Increased, More Organized Real Estate with Timeline & Ticker
The Ticker is not a new feature on Facebook Pages, but actually on Personal Profiles. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a condensed version of your News Feed in the upper right hand corner of your profile that shows quick excerpts of what’s happening with your Friends. You can imagine it as the “Twitter” portion of your profile. This has been a very controversial new feature, but whether you like it or not, it has expanded the potential visibility of activity about your business because it shows your friends interactions with other people and all of the Pages that they like.
The Timeline is also slowly rolling out to users. If you haven’t seen what this looks like yet, the image above is a screenshot of what my Timeline looks like. What it does is completely reorganize your entire Facebook life into something of a scrapbook. Featuring bigger images, more “Life Events” to share, and easy access to your past, I believe this is going to resonate more with users and drive more overall engagement with the site which ultimately means, more possibility for engagement with you.
Change #5: “People are Talking About This”
This is one of the great new metrics that Facebook has to offer businesses in their Insights program. This number updates daily based on the last seven days of activity on and about your Page. This activity includes:
• Liking a Page
• Posting to a Page’s Wall
• Liking, commenting on, or sharing a Page post, photo, video, or album
• Answering a Question
• RSVPing to an event
• Mentioning a Page in a post
• Photo-tagging a Page
• Liking or sharing a check-in deal
• Checking in at a Place
This metric is great for users and for businesses!
Businesses can take a closer look at how, when, and what efforts more effective for them. On the flip side, users can see whether or not a business is putting any effort into their Page and/or whether or not people think those efforts are interesting and worth engaging with!
At the end of the day, just remember: you CAN be effective in Facebook as a small business without all of the fancy bells and whistles. All you have to do is be proactive in engaging in conversations and building meaningful, genuine relationships with your audience.
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What questions, comments, concerns, complaints, or rave reviews do you have about the latest Facebook changes?