Facebook has made a number of changes to their pages recently and as a small business it is important that you know what these are; what you now need to do differently, and how you can make the most out of them! One of the best sources for Facebook changes, and where we found out about a lot of the below, is Inside Facebook and I would recommend having a look there every now and again if you are not sure about a Facebook change or want to be kept updated.

1. Bye bye FBML hello iFrame apps

We talk a lot about custom tabs and how you can make the most of these. Facebook have recently changed the way developers can create new apps, so whilst previously they were created using static FBML, now developers will need to use iFrame apps. This is not a big deal from a creation perspective, developers will still be able to create custom apps for your Facebook page in iFrame, but what it does mean is that if you have custom pages in Facebook already, then it may be worth your developer transferring them to iFrame at some point. Facebook are still supporting FBML and therefore your apps will not break immediately, but currently it is unknown how long they will support this for. Luckily Facebook appear to have made this easy to do!  Also, as of last week, in the interest of privacy, apps must now use POST for Canvas.  Again, this is nothing to worry about immediately, but it is definitely worth speaking to your developer about. For more information click here.  Luckily, this is stuff that we know all about so if you are struggling to transfer information or are interested in creating tabs you can always contact us.

2. Increase your ‘likes’ – but strategically

Quite often I see emails or messages on Twitter where businesses are offering something in return for a ‘like’ on Facebook. One example was a  10% discount on your first order, another was entry into a prize draw. Both of these were being managed by the company themselves. Now however, you can get someone else to do the work for you! Insto.re is a site that enables you to reward your customers for ‘liking’ your page in a way to suit your business.

Business owners are able to visit the Insto.re site and enter in all the information they like – the reward details, the Facebook page,  the name of the store etc. You choose how you would like to structure your rewards and hay presto you are away! If you are a coffee shop for example you may wish to offer a free muffin with every purchase for a ‘like’.  This can be a great way to increase awareness and get your ‘like’ figures up!  The only thing I would say is, remember what you are trying to achieve by doing this… Do you want to create a loyal community on Facebook who will engage regularly and be loyal to your brand? And will giving away free stuff aid this or just get you loads of fans who just want something for free and do not really care about you? Can you give away something with your brand name on it that people will want to keep but will not cost the earth?  Make the most of this but do not jump straight in, think about your strategy.

3. Hooray for useful analytics!

Analytics over the past month has become a LOT more useful on Facebook.  As we start to base a large number of online decisions on metrics and data, it was important that Facebook kept up with the trend and gave businesses useful information, and they seem to have done just that.  For businesses there is nothing more important than metrics in terms of seeing whether your time on Facebook is really worth it, seeing what further developments could better improve your ROI, and seeing what you desperately need to change. From your insights page (login, click Adverts and pages on the left, then click insights) you can now see real time data about the performance of your Like button and Comments Box, what your most popular websites are, a lot more about the demographics of visitors etc – great news! For more on this click here.

Daily places activities

If yours is a business that people “check-in” to and/or “claim deals” then this might be enough to make you do a little dance. Page insights will now show you a daily places activity so you can see the number of people who checked in or claimed your deal.

4. Photos

Is your photo blurry?

Everyone’s profile photo has now been resized to 180 x 540 so if your image is looking a little blurry it might be worth you re-sizing it accordingly.

Photo Strip

You will probably have noticed that you now have a photo strip across the top of your Facebook page with your most recent photos. Some companies have done some very cool things with their photostrip

For more on how to create a similar photo strip go here. The important thing to remember is that this is one of the first things people look at when they come to your page. Have some photos in there, if it is blank it will not look good.  But also make sure they are great photos that tell people a bit about your business and give off the right, engaging, messages. If there are some not so great photos in there, hide them by clicking in the top right of the image, and pull through the ones you want.

5. Tabs

If you have spent time and money on custom made tabs, do not worry. They are still there, just a lot less visible. This just means you need to  rethink titles, landing pages and how you can get people to look at them!  I.e. posting messages throughout the week to get people looking there. You can reorder your tabs/list as well by pressing more – edit and clicking and dragging. To give you an example, you can see from the below that Coca-Cola have a special ‘Home” page which is also their landing page. The tabs so to speak, are listed are the left hand side. You can see they have ‘House Rules” listed in the top, clearly this is a priority they have moved up the list.

When you click on ‘more’ at the bottom of the list, a large list of other pages comes up (this is just a small section of them!). Each of these taking you somewhere different.

I would strongly recommend looking up some big brands on Facebook and seeing how they do it to learn from. Maybe look at you competitors? Or industry leaders? You will often be able to tell from their engagement levels and comment numbers on their walls compared to yours if they have something worth learning from!

6. Authority to the page!

As a page you can now ‘like’ another page and therefore not just favourite.

You can also post outside your page as your business. For example, if you want to comment on other pages or profiles as your company, you now can – this enables you to take your business on Facebook outside your page which becomes very interesting…

These are just six of some of the bigger changes from Facebook over the last couple of months. Please feel free to add others in using the comments and let us know what you think about the changes!  What are you happy/unhappy about? What do you think needs to come next? I know better searching facilities is number one on my list…

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