It's all change at Facebook in the last couple of weeks with a complete overhaul of the news feed, new sharing options and more big stuff coming on Thursday from the F8 conference. While all of the announcements have been highly exciting they are not exactly favorable to brands and businesses with pages on Facebook. Advertising is Facebook's number one source of income but the changes that they have made recently are actually hurting people who have spent lots of money and time building up large communities on their Facebook fan pages. They probably have more stuff coming to help pages in the long run but at the moment brands and businesses are suffering...
have been busy adding their smart lists to all our profiles which allow us to group people together by close friends, location and family. These lists are massively handy but people using them are effectively filtering brands and businesses out of their news feed. Facebook wants to make sure that it offers it's 800 million users the best possible experience but what they seem to be doing with these changes is filtering pages out of the news feed and with most of those pages being Facebook customers through their advertising platform that has to be a worry. Not everybody is going to use the smart lists but if if you were to use them effectively you wouldn't have to see another Facebook page ever appear in your news feed again.
Edge Rank Broken?
Edge Rank is the algorithm that Facebook uses to determine what appears in your news feed but to all extents and purposes Facebook are killing it in front of our eyes with all the new changes. Well not killing it but refining it to give users more control over what they see. Studies have shown that brand and business pages are only showing up on between 10-15% of news feeds anyway which is a tiny amount and that number could be decreasing as we speak given all the new filtering options.
Brands Questioning Value Of Communities
We've moved away from a stage where brands were happy to spend money acquiring large communities and now they want to see them put to work. Walking in and saying you have 200,000 likes on Facebook just doesn't mean anything anymore. While the initial excitement for most businesses was about building communities a certain amount of realism has suddenly kicked in and people are looking at the cold hard ROI. How much money can I make from this community? How much can I shave off the bottom line through customers service carried out through social media? The really big guys can of course use their millions of likes for brand building purposes but if you are a small local business paying for your 5000 likes it's a different story and what I am hearing the most at the moment is "we have a page with 5000 likes what do we do now?"
This was a really interesting move
because Facebook were effectively saying to a large amount of people to forget about pages and instead focus on getting people to subscribe to their personal profiles. Granted that this is aimed at web personalities and people who want to broadcast their updates to a wider audience (Politicians, journalists etc) but this still marks a fundamental shift in the way that people are going to be using the site. It's strange to see Facebook move people away from Pages (where they make advertising money) and back to their profiles but it's all aimed at making the site more social. Even though it feels like Facebook have cut off a revenue stream here there is probably a much bigger picture with pages being reserved for more serious sharing of media and content.
What Is The Future For Pages?
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Facebook were doing their best to harm their own Facebook pages product with all these changes. They are not stupid though and realize that advertising is a major source of their revenue and if anything these changes probably amount to Facebook limbering up to offer something much more compelling to brands. To some pages are getting a little tired and need an overhaul and Facebook are well known for completely changing the design and format of their products on a regular basis. Our best guess is that Pages are about to get overhauled for brands and businesses to have an even better presence on the social network. If you believe all the reports today it is going to be about Read, Listened, Watched, And Want Buttons. Facebook pages have served brands and businesses well to date but all of the above is probably just a little spring cleaning that is happening before they release something much bigger and better on Thursday at F8. Watch this space.