So, Facebook has been hinting at a lot of changes that will be “coming soon”. Namely, changes to their “pages” profiles (which are basically business listings) and users’ home pages. The “pages” changes though have gotten a lot of buzz in the marketing world. However, no one really knew when those changes would actually take effect since the only message Facebook was giving was “soon”. Well, soon happened to be today, and it’s going to be interesting to see how the masses call this one when it fully plays out.
First, let me explain why businesses are so excited about the new pages layout. See before, when a business wanted to put up a page, they added a bunch of stuff to it that was relevant to their business and if people liked it they became fans. If you wanted to see what was new with them you could visit their page, maybe you’d get an update in your Facebook inbox once in a while… but that was pretty much it. With the new layout though, pages are more like profiles… meaning, the owners of pages now have the ability to “share” with their fans. They can post status updates, links, notes, photos, whatever… and instead of each user having to go to the page to see what’s going on, they’re going to get notices in their news feed. Let me say that again, users are going to get posts from pages in their news feed.
This is huge. It’s beyond huge. Businesses can now communicate directly with people who are “fans” of their page. A true two-way flow of information. Businesses are no longer hog-tied to users remembering that they actually are “fans”… if there’s a new product or service coming out, their fans will know about it. If news happens in the industry, their fans will know about it. This is a very good thing for businesses… and in a slightly smaller way, it’s good for fans too.
Here’s the problem though… there’s a lot of stupid people out there. Yeah, I know… but stop and think for a second and tell me I’m wrong. So the problem is going to be misuse of the system… or rather, unintended use.
Because businesses can post all kinds of things, and they’ll end up in your news feed… we’re going to start seeing all kinds of things – mostly links – that we don’t need to see. We’re going to get spammed with marketing messages. And we’re going to get spammed by every page we’re a “fan” of… every one.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think the new layout is going to end up being a good thing… but initially, it’s going to get abused. In a time where everyone is doing anything they can for another sale, another member, another buck… this is one more tool to reach everyone.
The news feed is great, but as a Facebook user, be ready to have to do a little more work to get it to where you’re comfortable with it. You know those “edit” buttons where you can “see more from this user” or “see ess from this user”? That’s going to become your best friend. If you see a business abusing your news feed, click “see less from this user”. Eventually, you should get to a good balance.
The ultimate problem is though, that doing that doesn’t send any kind of message to that business. They don’t know you opted to see less from them, and unless you remove yourself as a fan or post a message on their discussion board, there’s no way for a business to know that they’re spamming people to death. So the practice will continue.
It could get to the point where businesses will tout how many “fans” they have… but not even have a clue how many fans they actually “reach”, and that’s the number. In that way, it’s like a newsletter database. What good is 100,000 newsletter subscribers if 60% of your messages go straight to the bulk/spam/junk folder?
What’s the answer? I’m not sure but I’m going to watch this play out with great interest. As someone who is an avid Facebook user AND someone who builds “pages” for businesses, I will be curious to see how this works its way into the fold.
If you’re a Facebook user… be prepared to massage your news feed a lot, and probably tweak who you’re a fan of.
If you’re a business with a page… I beg you, treat your fans with the same respect you’d treat someone who would walk into your store (even if you don’t have an actual store). Converse with your fans but don’t get carried away. Remember, it’s the connection to your fans that will help your business grow. Throwing messages out like it’s radio or TV is not what social media is all about. Make a connection and join the conversation.
I’d love to hear your take on the new layout of the Facebook pages. Post a comment below. Thanks!