Facebook’s Pages program for businesses and other organizations got a major upgrade this afternoon with the implementation of changes that make pages much more like a personal profile. In fact, I think they are now calling pages “Public Profiles.” And I have added emphasis below to Facebook’s description of what I think is the most important new benefit:
By leveraging the real connections between friends on Facebook, a public profile lets users connect to the entities they care about and allows you to join the conversation. Posts by the public profile will soon start to appear in News Feed, giving you a more dynamic relationship with the public figures and organizations you are interested in.
A big problem with Pages, as opposed to groups or personal profiles, has been that when an organization wants to send information to its “fans” it must send an “Update” as opposed to a message that goes in the regular Facebook Inbox. But most users rarely check their updates; at least not anywhere near as regularly as they view their Inboxes. This has significantly reduced the usefulness of Pages.
Here are some other specific highlights of the changes (again, with emphasis added):
Update and share: Like a user profile, your Page can now update its Fans with statuses—short text-only messages. Soon, these statuses will appear in Fans’ News Feeds.
Tabbed Structure: The tabbed structure multiplies your possibilities. Similar to their functionality in user Profiles, tabs help keep Pages organized so people know where to go to get different pieces of information. The Wall tab is for dynamic content, the Info tab has static information, the Photos tab contains photos albums and Fan photos, etc.
Wall: The Wall tab closely resembles the Wall tab on a user profile. You and your Fans can use the turnkey publisher tool in the main column to share comments and even rich media. Posts by your Page go to your Fans’ News Feeds, and comments by your Fans go to their friends’ News Feeds. Those posts will hyperlink back to your Page.
Facebook has a Step by Step Guide to the new pages that is helpful, and the Best Practices documents for each particular kind of page (Public Figures, Music & Bands and Communities) also provide good guidance.
Check out our Mayo Clinic fan page, which we have adapted and republished with the new format.
Another major improvement is the ability to use the Notes application to import blog posts into your organization’s Facebook public profile. So, for example, we are importing our Sharing Mayo Clinic blog posts into our Mayo Clinic page, which will help create more readership and engagement.
Updates to fans are still available, and can be targeted to certain demographic groups among your fans. So, in the case of Mayo Clinic if we have a notice that only affects one of our three campuses, we could limit the distribution of the update to residents of a certain state.
I understand if some organizations have spent significant time customizing the look of their Pages, that they would not immediately appreciate the changed look. That explains some of the early angst among commenters on the Facebook announcement. But overall it’s a really good thing for organizations to have functionality that feels similar to personal profiles.
And the inclusion of status updates within the news feeds of fans is valuable enough all by itself to make the new Facebook pages a much better value for organizations.
Especially since everything you see on the Mayo Clinic page, for instance, is free!
The big remaining question is:
How soon is “soon?”
If public profile updates will “soon” be published to the news feed, I’m hoping “soon” means tomorrow or next week.
Anyone have any insight on how soon “soon” is?