Facebook Allows Users to Tag Pages in Photos, Could Bring in New Fans

Starting today, Facebook users will be able to tag Pages in their photos. Page tagged photos will adhere to a user’s privacy settings, and will only appear on a Page’s Photos tab if set to be visible to everyone. Initially, Facebook is only allowing Pages categorized as “Brands & Products” or “People” to be tagged, but it says it is “looking to expand this functionality to more Page categories over time.”

Since a tag will cause a link to that Page to be displayed on a user’s photo, the feature could become an important discovery and growth channel for Pages.

Previously, users could only tag their friends in photos, but now they can tag any Page with the proper category, whether they’ve Liked it or not. A tag of a brand or public figure represents a strong social recommendation of that Page, which will make a user’s friends curious to visit that Page and improve the chance that they’ll Like it themselves.

Photos is Facebook’s most popular native application, receiving huge numbers of Page views. Tags of Pages in Photos could gain many impressions from a user’s friends over a long period of time, offering many opportunities for that Page to gain new fans. Tagged photos also often appear in the news feed generating additional impressions for the Page’s link.

Brands, products, and people are some of the things represented by Pages that most frequently appear in user photos. Brands like soft drinks or clothing lines may incidentally be included in photos of friends, while users often upload photos of themselves with celebrities to the social network. The examples Facebook included in the information it sent us include brand/product Coca Cola, and musician Kanye West who is technically categorized as a musician/band, indicating that Pages with a wide range of categories that represent people may be able to tak advantage of the new feature.

Back in September 2009, Facebook began allowing users to tag Pages in status updates and comments. The delay before expanding Page tagging to photos indicates that Facebook understands the abuse and news feed dilution potential of the feature. It could overly incentivize Pages to ask users to tag them in photos, filling the news feeds of friends with photos that aren’t that compelling. Facebook will need to ensure that photos that only include tags of Pages but no friends aren’t given high visibility in the news feed.

If Facebook can minimize the impact of the few Pages and users that try to abuse Page photo tags, the feature will let users share the brands and celebrities that are important to them while simultaneously offering a new unpaid growth mechanism for Pages.

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