Most of us who have visited Facebook in the past week have noticed some significant changes and new features.
We have been watching and have seen an initial public outcry over the changes but this seems to happen whenever Facebook launches changes on their unsuspecting user base. Following this there has been a lot of misinformation circulating causing more confusion.
Before you fall into the trap of believing and recirculating rumors about Facebook, it is important to note the following:
- Facebook is not going to charge users for their accounts. They have no intention of ever doing this and announced today that they will 'never' charge for accounts. Facebook makes it's money out of Facebook advertising and 'speculation' from investors on the potential of the technology they are building and the data they are collecting on their users.
- Despite what some people are saying, you don't need to get people to click 'like' on your posts to ensure you are not dropped from their feeds. There is no 'new algorithm formula' that is determining what items show in your feed or not.
We always find it is best to get information direct from the source rather than relying on others opinions. Therefore ensure you check out https://www.facebook.com/facebook
for news on any new features and changes and https://www.facebook.com/KnownIssues
for any known issues with Facebook. If you 'like' both of these pages then you will be kept up to date with what is happening with Facebook.
The main reasons behind these changes (apart from Facebook wanting to continue to improve it's services) is that Facebook is facing a serious threat from Google's plus social media platform (http://plus.google.com
) and they also want to gain more ground on their main competition Twitter.
We have been playing around with the new layout and features on Facebook over the past week and have found that once you get used to it, it actually provides a much better experience. Below we have outline the top new features and how they work:
The news feed in the centre of the screen has changed slightly so that it shows all items in chronological order (it has also been renamed to 'Stories'). Each time you visit facebook it will show you how many new stories have occurred since your last login and you can click this to then view the stories. This ensures you don't miss anything that has happened since you last logged in.
Things that are not considered stories that used to appear in the news feed (mainly notifications like when when someone becomes friends with someone else) don't appear in the news feed any more. Instead they are down on the 'read time feed' which is on the top right of the screen (above the list of your friends). The reason for this is to keep your news feed clean and up to date.
Real Time Feed (a.k.a. Ticker)
The new real time feed on the right hand side shows everything that is happening with your friends. Simply hover over this area and then use the scroll wheel on your mouse to scroll the feed up and down. If you hover over an item in the feed it then pops up. One of the new features in this is it now tells you when your friends are interacting with other people and pages you have no connection with. We are not sure of the benefits of this feature and it may make some people uncomfortable as it allows your friends to now see when you comment on or communicate with other people easily (in the past, people would need to visit your wall to see this information).
You can now allow people to 'subscribe' to your status updates. This essentially allows any member of the public to get your status updates in their feeds and comment on them without your approval. We believe the main reason behind turning on this feature is for Facebook to allow a 'Twitter' style environment within Facebook. Twitter allows you to 'follow' people such as celebrities, industry professionals, etc. and read their posts. Subsriptions essentially allows this service within Facebook and we are already seeing many celebrities and industry professionals jumping on board with this feature. This feature has the potential to kill off the need for Twitter if it becomes successful enough and develops the same features such as 'trending topics' that are used in Twitter. After all, everyone would prefer to manage all their social media in once place.
There are new features being launched soon (such as Timeline) as Facebook is gaining momentum and trying to fight off Google Plus. Our advice is to hang in there and enjoy the ride. These new changes are being made to make life easier for everyone and once you get used to them, you may find many of the new changes very useful.
What does this mean for businesses on Facebook?
At the moment, none of these changes really effect businesses using 'pages' on Facebook. These changes are all about enhancing the experience for users and if you have a business page, you should continue to use it and interact with it the way you have in the past. Ensure you regularly post interesting and informative content for your likers and you will continue to enjoy growth and success.