The Most Important Thing Brands Should Know About the New Facebook Pages

Now that they have been rolled out, just what do the new Facebook Page changes announced at the Facebook Marketer Conference (fMC) mean for brands and social marketers? Quite a bit actually.

The changes not only affect design and strategy in the management of the brand Pages themselves, but the new opportunities in paid Facebook advertising potentially represent a sea-change in how brands will market on social going forward. Richard Beattie, VP of EMEA at Vitrue explains.

First, the obvious: the new Page is all about visuals.  Brand Pages will adopt a look more in line with the user chronological Timelines we’ve already seen.  This means there will be more emphasis on visually engaging elements to the Page, everything from the large cover photo to the inclusion of more multimedia content on the Timeline.

Brands can start crafting and curating these Pages now in preview mode, then publish the new Timeline when ready.  But ready or not, all Pages will be switched to Timeline at the end of this month, so no time like the present to start curating your Timeline to visually tell the story of your brand, from its founding to the present day. 

Now that your story is dressed up and presented in an engaging way as never before, your fans may wind up spending more time exploring your Page.  They may also wind up revisiting more often than before because the new Timelines are more “friend-centric,” meaning your Page is more about your fans and their activities rather than just about your brand’s marketing message being pushed at them. 

Some technical changes: the tabs experience will be different.  Tab apps will surface as boxes on the Timeline, and all tabs will not be visible unless the user activates the dropdown arrow.  The ability to utilise a controlled landing tab is lost, and if you want to fan-gate, you have to do it by placing an Open Graph Object in the image.

What you gain is a new, more comprehensive admin panel, new notifications and Activity Log allowing you to respond instantly to Page activity, tabs optimised for mobile, a “pinned” post you can always keep at the top of your Timeline, as well as the ability to send and receive direct messages from fans.  This kind of previously unavailable closed-loop communication has enormous implications on conducting customer service via Facebook.

All of this represents a definite improvement over the old brand Pages.  However…if there’s nothing else you take away from this article, understand this:  The News Feed is still of utmost importance, as is the content in it.  It’s where users far and away spend most of their time.  The News Feed is 110x more engaging than other objects on Facebook.  With Facebook’s recent changes, creating the truly exceptional content required to surface onto News Feeds is more critical than ever.

Further, what we’re starting to experience is the fusion of paid, owned and earned media.  Facebook also announced at fMC their new Reach Generator.  At its core, Facebook’s revenue strategy is to move from ads to content.  With Reach Generator, brands have an opportunity to invest in their very best content, gaining distribution for what are, in effect, paid marketing stories.

Here’s how it works:  In a departure from the familiar pay per-click or pay per-thousand impressions model, brands pay a fixed fee based on their fan count.  Right away, this allows them to leverage the investments they’ve already made in building up their Facebook fan base.  Brands post content, which the faster data feedback now available will show as either resonating or not resonating with fans.  If you see that your post is a “hit,” you can pay to amplify it through more guaranteed distribution. 

Now your post will show up as a sponsored story in the right hand column, in the News Feed, and in a display when fans logout of Facebook.  With Reach Generator, Facebook is guaranteeing your post will get exposure to 75% of your fans per month. That’s really strong. Typically, according to Facebook, a post reaches 16% of fans.  Tests with beta clients yielded results of up to 3x ROI and reach as high as 98%.

Which brings us back to the key takeaway: getting posts into your fans’ News Feeds should be your first job.  Whether you achieve that by creating content that overcomes the EdgeRank gatekeeper and surfaces organically on News Feeds, or whether you’re ready to pay to get that content distributed into News Feeds, that content has to be compelling, entertaining, informative, desired by, welcomed by, and relevant to your fans who see it.  If it’s not, it will go nowhere organically.  And if you pay to put weak content, pure marketing messages or adverts into their News Feeds, fans will grow frustrated, possibly even “unliking” you altogether.

The old saying “Content is King” rings more true now on Facebook than ever before.

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