The brains behind Facebook are continually looking for ways to create the best experience possible for their 500 million users. From time to time we see major layout and feature changes rolled out and this time it is all about the pages.
The beginning of 2011 brought with it a multitude of new features and layout changes added to our business pages. Some are long awaited (email notifications!) and some leave us a little… lets say… displeased. Either way, Facebook is one of the best tools available to small businesses and we willingly take the good with the bad. Take advantage of the latest changes with these tips:
Let your photography business take the wheel. Using Facebook as your page
One of the most important new features included in the latest changes is the ability to use Facebook as your business. Before, we were only able to post to our pages as our business and all other interactions were limited to our personal profile. With this latest change, we can now switch back and forth between using the site as our business and as our personal profile. What does this mean? Better control and more exposure.
Liking and featuring other Facebook pages
In my opinion, one of the best advantages of using Facebook as my photography business is that it allows me to connect with other wedding vendors and related sites in my area. Before the changes I could only “Like” their page as my personal profile and maybe post a link to their site or business page. Now I can feature my favorite vendors and sites right on my page. ( Edit page > Featured) This provides value for my fans who are planning a wedding and could use a recommendation, but it also helps establish a strong relationship with vendors in my area who may not have connected with me before. Don’t be afraid to ask for reciprocal “Likes” and features from them as well.
Commenting as your page or your profile
Using Facebook for your business is all about engaging with your customers and prospects, right? I always felt a bit like a pushy salesman as I interacted with fans who post on my page. Now I can comment on posts as either my business or my personal profile, which creates a more relaxed and personal conversation. I can also post on other vendors posts or pages as my business. This creates a great opportunity for exposure. Please don’t spam the vendor’s pages though.
Sharing as your page
I like to post helpful or amusing content to my business page. Always before I was limited to the content I personally uploaded or to sharing as my personal profile. Now I can share any content as my business page.
Your very own news feed
After you have liked other local vendors and photography related sites you can now keep up with them via your new news feed. This is beneficial because separating business content from that of your friends can help you concentrate on interacting with businesses and leaves the personal content for your down time.
It knows what they want! New filtered wall content
Facebook. Meet controversy. Many businesses are maybe a little more than slightly peeved over this “feature”. Similar to the previously rolled out “Top News” on your home news feed, Facebook is now determining which of your page content takes precedence on your wall. Based on both recency and popularity, Facebook will sort your posts in order to, supposedly, provide the best experience for your fans.
Horizontal vs Vertical. Tab menu relocation
In order to make room for the new photo strip, the Tab menu has been relocated to directly below the profile image. The new, smaller, menu is much less prominent and likely to be ignored by most users. Offset this by creating a i-frame Facebook welcome tab and by creating conversation about your discussion boards or review tabs.
The photo strip has a mind of its own
The photo strip, or row of thumbnails at the top of your page, is a new addition to pages but was added to personal profiles several months before. The main difference is that pages do not have the ability to determine which photos end up in the photo strip. Instead, it will feature your latest 5 uploaded images. You do have the ability to remove unwanted photos by simply mousing over the thumbnail and clicking the (x). The photo will then be removed from the strip but will remain in the album.
Profile picture resized, yet again
Facebook has made another change to the profile picture size for pages. The new size is 180×540 pixels. If your current picture is larger it will be resized to fit. I recommend creating a new picture to fit within those boundaries so as to not fall victim to the Facebook resize degradation.
Finally, a little heads up! Email notifications for pages
Possibly to balance our dissatisfaction with the new wall filtering, Facebook decided to finally give in and provide email notifications for pages. As with personal profiles, you will now be notified when someone posts on your wall or comments on a post or photo. You do have to turn it on, however. Simply go to edit page/ your settings / notifications to enable this long-awaited feature. If you don’t like the idea of flooding your inbox with Facebook notifications you can still keep track of your page activity by clicking “Use Facebook as your page”. You will then see the traditional notifications in the top menu.
A little bit of info. About excerpt replaces Information section
The new page layout no longer includes the “Information” box which was previously located directly below the profile picture. It has been replaced by a 2.5 line excerpt from the “About” section of the “Info” tab. Edit this under edit page > basic information. I recommend adding a call to action (ie, Click like to join the conversation!) or website link.
Let me specify. Changing your category
Previously pages were not able to change their business category once the page was created. You can now change this anytime under edit page > basic information.
Who runs this place? Featured owners
If your business name is anything other than your name your fans may be confused if you post on your page under your personal profile. Let them know who is behind the scenes by setting yourself as a “Featured Page Owner”. This is also useful if multiple studio employees post to your business page. Go to edit page > featured to add owners.
Staying on top of Facebook’s changes will ensure that you make the most of one of the most powerful free marketing tools available to us as marketers. Take a cue from Facebook and see if you can find other ways to provide the best user experience for your customers.