Facebook's New Pages: What Has Changed?

By Nick O'Neill Comment

This is Day 1 of the 30 Days to 3,000 Fans program. You can learn more about the program here.

On March 4th of this year, Facebook released an updated version on what was previously called “Facebook Pages”, then renamed to “Facebook Public Profiles”. While it has been months since the update, the changes are significant enough that I think they’re worth noting. The update essentially transformed the ways that brands could interact with both existing customers as well as potential future customers.

While many described it as a move against Twitter (including myself), the dynamic between Twitter and Facebook is not important to this guide. What’s most important is that you have a thorough understanding of all the features of Facebook pages and how to leverage them for your business. Below is an outline of the new features that have been added to Facebook Pages. As we continue the program over the coming 30 days, we will outline how to leverage every aspect of the pages product. Here are a few of the features you will be learning about:

Status Updates

-Status Updates Icon-

This is probably the most significant upgrade for Facebook Pages. Any page administrator can now post status updates on behalf of the Facebook page they are managing. Whether you are an individual or a large brand, you will now have direct access to your fans through the news feed. I’ve personally benefited substantially from status updates. As the image above illustrates, by posting a status update that’s a question, you can instantly get tons of feedback. We regularly receive upwards of 30 replies to a single status update.

This is an excellent way to continue engaging your fans on a regular basis. The status update is one of the core features of Facebook and the recent site redesign increases the emphasis on status updates.

Ability to Post Rich Content To The Feed

-Mobitel Ad Screenshot-Under the previous design, Facebook page admins could post rich media content but it was not included in a continuous stream from the main page. Instead, rich media was regularly tucked away. Regardless of where the content was positioned on the page, when new content was posted there was no way to notify users of the new content. The result was that users would become fans but never return to the public profile because there was no way to get alerted to the changes.

While there is a feature called “Updates” (that I’ll cover momentarily), most users were completely oblivious to previous public profiles that they had become fans of. Distribution of rich-media content in the feeds changes all that. Now you can upload videos and photos and they will immediately be posted to all of your fans’ feeds to watch, comment on, and increase overall engagement.

Mobile Updates To Fans

-Subscribe to Sarah Lacy Icon-This is another great feature which many brands will increasingly take advantage of. As I mentioned already, public profiles had no way of reaching out to fans previously (aside from the typically unread “updates”). Now brands can have their status updates not only broadcasted to their fans’ news feeds but also directly to their mobile phones. This is a huge opportunity to increase the level of fan engagement.

The only downside to this feature is that there is no way to currently monitor how many mobile subscribers you have or how many people have read a given status update. While Facebook hasn’t stated that they plan on adding this feature anytime soon, I would imagine that Facebook will gradually improve their analytics offering to include mobile subscriptions. Currently Facebook page “Insights” let admins view how many views of videos, photos, and page views have been made.

A Decreased Emphasis On “Updates”

Facebook has always provided admins with the ability to send messages to their fans via something called “Updates”. The only problem with the updates is that they don’t go directly to a user’s primary inbox. Instead they go to a separate tab in their inbox called “Updates”. One person that I spoke with sent a test message out to a public profile with more than 100,000 fans and received under 50 clicks. In other words: updates are pretty much useless.

That’s why Facebook now emphasizes status updates as the primary channel of communication for public profiles. Have an event you’re promoting? Post about it via a status update. I hosted a conference last November and found that my public profile at the time was practically useless because nobody was visiting the page and most people didn’t respond to updates. While there’s a chance Facebook will improve this feature, the latest upgrades signal that they are slowly decreasing the emphasis on “Updates”.