5 Things All Page and Brand Managers Should Know About Facebook’s Recent Updates

Yesterday, Facebook made a slew of product roadmap announcements at the Facebook Developer Garage at its headquarters in Palo Alto. In addition to the recent updates to the News Feed, this means significant changes are happening across the Facebook ecosystem that marketers and brands need to be aware of and account for in their products and strategies.

Here are 5 of the most important implications of the changes that Facebook has announced in the last week:

1) News Feed distribution to all fans is no longer guaranteed

With the previous version of the News Feed, all content shared by a user’s friends or Pages they’re a fan of appeared in the stream by default. In the current News Feed, an algorithm determines what appears for each user. This means that no longer is simply publishing content sufficient to guarantee exposure to all your fans – instead, Page owners will need to optimize the content they publish for maximum News Feed distribution (“News Feed Optimization,” as we like to call it).

So, how does Facebook decide which updates to show? When the News Feed rolled out last week, Facebook Product Manager Peter Deng told us that Pages are conceptually being treated similarly to friends. In other words, Facebook will take into account:

  • How many people (and especially your friends) comment on and like stories from Pages you’re a fan of
  • Which Pages you visit frequently
  • Which Pages you interact with frequently

So, engagement is now a lot more important – it’s what earns you News Feed presence. However, Facebook may be using other factors as well. Remember, Facebook’s News Feed knows what you did last summer (and the summer before that, and yesterday, and last week), so it should be able to come up with some “serendipitously” good suggestions.

Of course, there’s always Facebook Ads for those Pages that want to increase their exposure more quickly.

Note: Even in the new Live Feed, Facebook chooses a subset of friends and connections if you have more than 250 overall, though you can increase that default number – to see all Pages updates, users will need to click on the “Pages” filter in the left hand menu.

2) The upcoming email API creates new opt-in opportunities

Facebook announced yesterday that it will be creating a new API to enable users to easily deliver their email address to developers when they so choose, in order for developers to be able to directly communicate with users.  For brands who’ve built Facebook applications, this could present interesting new opt-in email opportunities.

While applications have been able to collect opt-in information manually in the past, this new “1-click” type option could reduce friction and make gathering fan contact information easier, bridging email and social media marketing opportunities in new ways. The API is scheduled to go live sometime in November.

3) Tab widths on Facebook Pages are NOT changing (UPDATED)

Yesterday, Facebook also announced that in “late 2009 or early 2010” tabs on Facebook profiles will change width from 760 pixels wide to 510 pixels wide. We assume this means that tab widths will be changing for Facebook Pages too (we’re currently awaiting confirmation from Facebook on this). If so, this means that all Pages that have created custom tabs (for example, application tabs, or tabs designed around special promotions) will need to be updated to fit the new width. (UPDATE: A Facebook spokesperson has confirmed to us that “Pages will not be changing at this time, however we are continually making upgrades to products. We’ll share more when we have further details.”)

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