Facebook to Disable “Send an Update” that Let Pages Reach Fans Directly Through Messages

Facebook has begun notifying Page owners that on September 30th it will remove the “Send an Update” option that let Page admins send Messages to their fans. These Updates often went unseen since they were delivered to the rarely opened “Other” Facebook Messages inbox. Rather than have Page admins waste time using tool that didn’t perform well, Facebook decided it would be best to remove it.

The site can already be overwhelming to marketer, so by stripping out ineffective or broken features, Facebook can get Page admins to focus on tools that build value for their brands. This will keep them from getting frustrated and moving their marketing and advertising dollars elsewhere.

Send an Update is accessible from the Resources tab of the Edit Page admin interface. It allows admins to bulk-message all their fans, or select specific location, gender, or age demographics of their fans as recipients. These Updates were once more visible, but when Facebook overhauled its Messages product in November 2010, it began relegating Updates to the Other inbox.

This sub-tab of the primary inbox is essentially a spam folder of Messages sent by people users aren’t friends with and Events they’ve RSVP’d to. Facebook apparently saw that this Other inbox wasn’t frequently opened. This meant admins were fruitlessly expending effort composing these Updates and relying on them for communicating important information.

Instead of promoting Page Updates to the primary inbox where they might be viewed as spam amongst Messages from friends, Facebook will remove the feature from its Page tools on September 30th. Facebook is communicating the change through headers on the Page Resources tab and the feature itself.

It recommends that “The best way to make sure your content is seen is to post it on your Wall so people see your updates in their news feed.” A Help Center entry about the feature removal adds “Consider using targeted Facebook Ads or Sponsored Stories to help grow and highlight your message within the Facebook experience.” This change comes ahead of Facebook’s f8 developer conference, where we’ve heard the company plans to introduce new ways to help developers target users via the news feed. 

When Facebook changes so quickly that sometimes minor features are left broken or don’t work as originally desgined due to changes to core features such as Messages or the news feed. One example is Tell Your Fans, which is designed to let admins invite people to Like a Page. However, these invites are rarely surfaced in Facebook’s sidebar and many of our readers have reported errors or poor performance of the tool.

If Facebook wants to be a mainstream marketing platform, it will need to continue making choice like removing Send an Update and streamline its tools to just those that are effective and reliable

[Thanks to Kevin Evanetski and Jeff Strank for the tip]