Saturday, March 3, 2012

"Mission Control" -The New Facebook Pages

by David Brown

Facebook just changed the rules for pages a few days ago. The new look is like the personal timeline although there are differences depending on what type of page is chosen during setup. Of course Facebook has many reasons for the having a uniformity in appearance for everyone and a functionality that mirrors their mission.

As Mark Zuckerberg stated after their recent launch of going public, we "build tools to help people connect with the people they want and share what they want, and by doing this we are extending people’s capacity to build and maintain relationship" (Social by Design, the Hacker Way).

The main feature on the new page layout, which will not officially change until March 30th, is the cover photo, 851 pixels wide by up to 315 pixels deep. This large image can be a single photo or graphic, or a collage.The fan page apps are not allowed to be chosen as a default, so we all have the look and feel of the layout shown above on the Facebook marketing page shown above.

Facebook has it's own page introducing these new page features. The following resources are also available to learn about the new page design and functionality.

The new page breakout video (fmc 2012 Pages Breakout) done by two of Facebook's engineers describes the new page tools and features including the reasons and philosophy behind the new design. One of  the most amazing things about Facebook is how they have revolutionized the marketing studies of usability, user behaviors, interaction with brands and ads, insights into sharing, engagement, and relationships by gathering user data on billions of bits of activity. This research is light years ahead of the slow moving old methods of surveys and building data over time. It is this research that is behind the new innovations in page design and functionality changes.

Here are a few more resources from Facebook to help with this learning curve:

Facebook page overview (pdf)    |  A More Detailed Page / Product Guide | Facebook Marketing Solutions

If you review some pages that have already made the change, you will see how easily we all can adapt to these changes, and understand why Facebook has made these changes. There is a lot of buzz about the new ads and options. One of the key changes that I have read that reflects Facebook's main mission towards social sharing is that the difference between ads and shared content may not be as noticeable. In fact, it may seem like a seamless integration into the news feed. No longer will we be turned off by those ads that shout at us from the right side column. Rather, the new "ad story" approach will pull us in rather than push at us with the old "buy this" or "try this" method. Engaging the user will be more subtle, and seamless on some pages. The newest high end ad programs are only available to companies and brands that have a monthly budget of $25,000 or more. There will still be the self-placement ads that will not be as prominent and that may have messages that may be more like the shout out rather then the seamless. Eventually, the story may be the ad. Users sharing their experience of a product or brand may be the "ad". Advertising is user generated when liked and shared. In many cases it's all about how cool the brand is by what they present, which may not be as much about a technical description of the product. One example is the new Toyota cover photo.

There are other features such as the four visible image tabs that replace the tabs that were in the left column. The small drop down menu arrow to the right of those allows for more exploring by the user. The main body of the page is reserved for sharing in the news feed. These new changes, as a result of the research that went behind them, is causing us to re-think how we want to engage visitors to our pages, learn what the best standards and ideas are for this engagement, and take a fresh approach to the new "mission control" process.

David Brown
Logion Web Design and Development