Tuesday, November 1, 2011

9 Ways Facebook's New Look Affects Your Brand

You know the Third Degree Facebook page is always active. (We can't resist a good photo op.) So when Facebook changes its interface, we take notice. We’re particularly interested in how these changes impact businesses. Here are some important highlights and takeaways for you to remember:

Anyone can comment on Pages.
Any Facebook member can now comment on a brand’s page, regardless of whether or not they “Like” the page. Although there are concerns associated with this transition (like dealing with crises and spam, and reaching new customers) this will now open conversations to more users, which can in turn bring potential customers. The good news is that you can’t measure success by ‘likes’ alone, but instead by the engagement of your community. Less stress on ‘like’ forces brands to create great content that keeps people coming.

The News feed is more selective, streamlined.
The streamlined News Feed includes a ticker timeline for less crucial updates (like a friend commenting on another friend’s photo). Important events get better real estate on the bigger, traditional news feed. This is good news for business pages, since you’ll cut through a noisy feed by posting high-quality content (determined by EdgeRank).

The EdgeRank System decides what you see.
Facebook’s EdgeRank formula breaks down visibility into various categories: Affinity, Weight, and Time. Affinity increases each time you interact with a page, meaning that content will get more presence in your feed. Weight prioritizes the visibility of different content categories, like photos, videos, links and status updates, with comments getting the most priority. Time-relevant information stays closer to the top of a newsfeed. (via)

Friend activity is now public.
The Friend Activity tab shows you which of your friends visited a brand’s page, the “Likes” and comments on posts, and any mention of the page by friends. A more personalized page means more user interest in visiting and interacting with the business or brand. Users can now recommend your brands to their friends directly from your page. (Just remember to give them a reason to do so.)

Status update character limit increased over 1000%.
A status update was once limited to 420 characters. That limit is now 5,000. For users, that means a more blog-like experience with their profiles. For brands, it means you can get a little more in-depth when you share news or events with your community.

Admins have more metrics.
This one's for the real analytics geeks. Where once you could only see metrics and engagement per-post for your self-published items, now you now track broader measurements by exporting Insight reports into Excel. (via)

Insights tool is more granular.
Analytics options now include a page-fan’s friendcount (“Friends of Fans”) and weekly Total Reach. Facebook encourages word-of-mouth sharing among fans and their friends, as well as to allow businesses to measure the extent of that sharing. Now you can count the stories people share that show up in News Feeds. Likes, mentions, RSVPs, check-ins, wall posts, answered questions and other related metrics are all measured. (via and via)

New plugins share browsing activity on Facebook.
If you're finicky about your privacy settings, this new feature might be a bit squicky. A Facebook plugin on your website publishes a Facebook user's browsing activity and sentiment on their profile and wall. From there, it filters out into their friends news feed and ticker. (via)

Facebook dabbles in social listening.
Following in the footsteps of Spotify, last.fm, and Pandora, Facebook now has a music dashboard letting you see what your friends are listening. Look deeper and you'll see their top albums and singles. Whether this will drive more people to Facebook and, in turn, could boost traffic to pages remains to be seen. (via)

So that's the straight dope on Facebook's newest changes. Though still filtering out to most users, Facebook's history shows they won't be the last changes to Facebook's UI. Whatever comes, just keep your focus on quality, shareable content. Oh, and have fun!

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