5 recent Facebook changes you may not know about (but should)

In case you didn’t notice, Facebook is constantly tinkering with its functionality, features and tools. In many ways, it’s a good thing. They’re always working to improve the platform–to improve the “user experience.”

On the flip side, it makes it tough to keep up with all the changes when the social media giant is introducing an update, change or tweak every week.

Along the way, I know I’ve missed a number of key updates, only to realize them a few weeks (or in some cases a month or so) later.

I’ve learned to become a voracious reader of three blogs: The official Facebook blog, Inside Facebook and All Facebook (the unofficial Facebook blog). Keeping up with these blogs has allowed me to stay up-to-date on the latest goings-on inside Facebook-ville.

Recently, Facebook has rolled out some changes that might impact you and your work a bit more than you think. Take a peek–and pass it along to those who you think might be impacted:

* Facebook Questions. This feature isn’t live for everyone yet, but when it does go live it has the potential to change the way people source information on the massive platform. By giving users the opportunity to crowd-source answers to basic questions, this tool could actually revolutionize the way people interact on Facebook. For brands, the opportunity is pretty big, too. Think about common questions that pop up around your brand (not just product/service-specific, but questions relating to topics around your brand). You’ll have an opportunity to listen to those questions–and see how other fans, customers and users are responding (remember, Questions will be on Community Pages, too). And, you should have the chance to weigh in with information that may influence purchase decisions.

* Multiple users can now access advertising accounts. For bigger brands, I’m guessing this has been a big issue. You have an advertising account, but only the creator can access the account, create ads and monitor results. With this recent change, you can give multiple admins access to the advertising info–huge for teams who need back-ups and agency partners to get to that information.

* Threaded comments for multiple posts of the same link. Facebook recently added an interesting piece of functionality. Any time a number of your friends post the same link, it will aggregate the posts and show comments and likes in threaded form. What does this mean for brands? It should give users and brands a better sense for topics that are “trending” and which posts more fans are talking about.

* Facebook ads now show friend reviews. You know all about “endorsed” ads–or those ads that are “liked” by your friends. But, Facebook recently took that concept one step further and added friend “reviews” to the mix. With a five-star rating framework now in place, not only can you see if friends like a brand page, but you can also see specifically how they feel about the brand, product or service. Especially helpful with retail products and service-based organizations (think health care providers).

* No more boxes. Two potentially huge changes for brand pages will take effect the week of Aug. 23, according to Facebook. The first, the removal of “boxes” for brand pages. Typically, this means those boxes brands have inserted on the left-hand-side of  Wall pages. These sometimes include policies or rules. If your page does have a box on the left-hand-side, consider moving that content to the Info tab or a custom tab. Secondly, Facebook is also changing the width of its custom tabs to 520 pixels. What does this mean? If you’ve created a custom tab, you need to change the width to 520 pixels–period. With all the FBML custom tabs brands are employing, this change affects more pages than you might think.

Note: Photo is courtesy of Franco Bouly via FlickR Creative Commons.

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12 comments on “5 recent Facebook changes you may not know about (but should)

  1. Glenn Hansen says:

    Arik, thanks for aggregating this for us. I have enjoyed the All Facebook blog, too, and have kept up with most of these changes, but that doesn't mean I understand them. In particular, the Questions feature, and the change to Boxes. Completely different things, I maybe with Questions it's more “I don't like it” than “I don't understand it.” But the change to Boxes, have you seen a good explanation of the reason for this switch?

  2. dez says:

    Good information, but you should have made it 6 recent changes with yesterday's addition of Places. Also the fact that not only can you check yourself into places via Facebook, but also your friend's can check you in. As always, it's on by default so you have to go into your privacy settings to change it.

  3. Arik Hanson says:

    Not really. The developers talk about it, but it's usually more technical in nature. No rationale that I've been able to understand, to your point.

  4. Arik Hanson says:

    Good point–Places was definitely big news yesterday. But, I figured most people heard about that one, especially given the title (but, maybe I assume too much there).

  5. Holly Donato says:

    Arik, congrats on the inclusion of this post in PRSA's Issues & Trends daily newsletter for Aug. 20! A great reader's digest of FB changes.

  6. jlbraaten says:

    Nice write-up, Arik. I think it's fascinating to watch social networks roll out features. Too many at once and you end up with Google Wave. Too few or done poorly and you end up with Myspace.

    I like the Questions feature the best but haven't been able to use it yet on my fan page. Crowd sourcing just got more structured!

  7. IngridCF says:

    was thinking the exact thing as Dez. Especially, since Places is on by default, the word needs to get out there so people who want to opt out can do it.

  8. snoopy says:

    apparently there is another feature slowly being rolled out. It allows friend's to share your status updates by clicking share. This goes beyond just sharing a picture or link…it allows you to share the status message without any sort of attachment.

  9. Steph says:

    So what do you think of the Places feature? Is that going to swamp apps like FourSquare?

  10. Arik Hanson says:

    Haven't looked into Places a ton yet–on my list for next week 😉 But, from what I've heard, I don't think it's near ready to overtake Foursquare as far as LBS goes. Time will tell.

  11. Arik Hanson says:

    Thanks, Holly. Was honored to be included.