Due to the multitude of recent updates to the Facebook platform, we have created a reference guide to outline all the changes in one place. Below (and available for download) is a basic breakout of each change made to the platform with the new release.
A key point to consider is, on March 30th, Facebook brand pages will be required to change their page design and layout to mirror the timeline format currently effective on personal profile pages.
Brand//Fan Communication Changes
Brands can now pay money to guarantee that posts/updates are seen by most of their fan base via news feed each month.
Double average reach and engagement with posts as more fans will see, engage and expose their network to brand page posts. The brand page ‘EdgeRank’ score will be amplified increasing the reach of a page post from 16% to 75% of brand page fans. Tests by Facebook have revealed that ads located within the news feed receive five to ten times the click-through rate of standard ads.
It will be key to provide engaging content and invest in the Reach Generator to guarantee distribution. By paying for enhanced circulation brands will get significantly more engagement.
Pinned, Starred and Milestone Posts
Brands can now assign greater significance to page posts by pinning, starring or marking a post as a milestone.
‘Pinned’ posts stay on the top left-hand side of the page timeline highlighting it for up to seven days. ‘Starring’ a post makes it extend the full width of the news feed turning it into a prominently featured story. ‘Milestone’ posts highlight a larger photo and can also incorporate a date and other content. These new post types help guarantee that fans see a page’s most important and engaging content.
Pinned, starred and Milestone posts can be used as links to any featured content on (or off) Facebook. Having a featured story (or stories) every week for fans to engage with is a good way keep fans interested and engaged with a brand page as well as test what kind of content is most engaging to its fan base.
Direct Messaging // Customer Service Inbox
Users can now contact a brand directly via direct Facebook messaging.
To contact any brand visitors can now simply click on the prominently featured ‘Message’ button and send a private message; The new button is located directly next to the ‘Like’ button in the upper right of the page. The goal of this new feature is move customer service interactions away from the Wall to a more inconspicuous location optimized for direct one-on-one communication. Messages will be delivered to the new brand page admin panel where page managers will go to monitor all notifications and page insights.
Brands will now need to be ready to monitor this channel of communication and respond to fans in real time. However, if a brand is not ready or does not want to use this new channel, it can be disabled.
Page Design and Management Changes
On March 30th, brand pages will be required to change their page design/layout to mirror the timeline format currently running on personal profile pages. Now when users visit a page they will see a compilation of stories published by the page itself, by their friends interacting with that page, and stories/posts from other users that have obtained the most likes, comments, and shares. Facebook is making an effort transform the way brands are represented so they interact more like a person and less like a company, while still providing them the ability to program and host any type of content on their page. The timeline format provides brands with beautiful canvas to tell their story. Consumers will now be able to easily navigate the latest content and campaigns on a page or dig into a brand’s history with only a few clicks.
The design changes that accompany the timeline include:
- A large cover photo (825 x 315)
- A smaller square profile picture (180 x 180)
- An abbreviated brand info/about section under the profile picture
- Four larger icons (111 × 74) featuring the first four page tabs or applications
- Tab width has been increased from 520 pixels to 810 pixels, drastically increasing design options
Page tabs are now front and center by design – located under the cover photo rather than off to the left under the profile picture – but Facebook is removing the ability set any tab as a default landing page for non-fans visiting a page. Each tab will still have unique URLs so they can be promoted in posts and ads. Brands can still ‘likegate’ tab content to force users to become a fan but Facebook is discouraging this by disabling auto refresh; now if visitors ‘like’ a page will not automatically reveal new content. The visible top four tabs (or applications) are all re-orderable except for ‘photos,’ which will always hold the left-most position. The icon that displays total number of ‘Likes’ can never be removed entirely but can be shifted out of the top four.
Six major design requirements accompany the new timeline format:
- No price or purchase information
- No contact information (now all belongs in the info section)
- No references to Facebook features or arrows
- No calls to action
- No false, misleading or stolen IP materials
The abbreviated brand info/about section under the page profile picture is the new home for any key information. It also links to a larger page specifically designed to display all brand information such as contact info.
Brands will need to implement all the fore-mentioned design changes and begin to build out their company history via photos, videos and text in Timeline. Choosing the right stories/posts to highlight, hide and set as milestones will be important as they will play a key role in telling the brand’s history. A solid editorial strategy for constructing an engaging view of brand history and representing it in the future will be a key focus. Building out a detailed brand info/about section, which is linked to by the abbreviated version located under the page profile picture, will also be key for making sure fans have access to all the brand information they may need.
Facebook is introducing real-time insights that will start reporting post statistics in only minutes. This used to take up to a few days.
Data about page posts will appear in Facebook Insights just 5 to 10 minutes after posting. This data will include:
- Media consumption
- Spam score
- Total reach
- People talking about this
Real-time insight into post performance will work in concert with the ‘Reach Generator’ and help page managers quickly identify which posts deserve amplification with paid media. Page-level data reporting will continue to take up to a few days to aggregate.
Real-time reporting on reactions to content will make it rapidly apparent what posts are going to be successful or not, and therefore much easier for page managers to develop a true sense of what content their fan communities do or do not enjoy.
Facebook is exposing lots of data about brand page fan bases to non-admins; this data will be
accessible through the ‘Likes’ box on all pages.
Basic demographics data, a one-month historical graph of ‘People Talking About’ and a one-month graph of ‘New Likes per Week’ (a new metric) will be available to all page visitors.
This will give brands the ability to run continual analysis of competitor performance and activity.
Content and Ads Melded Together
All Facebook ads will now begin as content posted to a Page. There are two categories of Facebook ads:
- Premium ads: bought directly from Facebook today.
- Marketplace ads: the ads that are shown on the right-hand side of Facebook. Marketplace ads can be bought through Facebook’s self-serve portal or via third-party ad API technology.
A new publishing process has been introduced: content posted on Facebook and its related data have become the “front end” of the new ad system. Content/creative and ad copy are paired from their inception. Posts that generate the most engagement are allowed further circulation via paid distribution. Users can ‘like’ and engage with the content anywhere: on the brand Page or in the paid ads. Users will inform brands what the like via clicks, shares, ‘likes’ and comments. Brands can turn any post into premium ads. Premium ads, appear in four places:
- News feed
- Right-hand side
- Mobile newsfeed
- The logout page
Because these ads are socially tuned to be an extension of each brand’s best and most
engaging content ad spend will go much further. Ultimately, this will allow brands to reach
approximately 200 times the number of fans they have.
Brand pages will need to create awesome content that focuses on being engaging by providing high quality relevant information; this means crafting posts/ads more like stories for consumption and sharing. Brands will need to monitor engagement data in real-time and make the right choices about what to buy and when.
A new variety of post that enables brands to easily publish and circulate coupons for their fans. Facebook Offers can be accepted directly from a user’s web or mobile newsfeed. ‘Reach Generator’ can be utilized to further promote offers to a larger and/or targeted audience.
Clicking on an offer sends a redeemable voucher to the user’s email. That voucher can then be spent at a physical location or entered as a coupon code at the vendor’s ecommerce website. Accepting a Facebook offer creates a post that is shared on the user’s wall and may appear that user’s friends’ newsfeeds; this helps increase the viral reach of the offer.
Brands that want to drive consumer engagement and product trials, or retailers that want to drive sales through discounts should definitely take advantage of Facebook Offers.