Having introduced their new timeline format to business pages just over a month ago in a soft launch, Facebook has now officially made the switch to all pages in a mandatory update. Similar to the new format for personal profiles, the timeline for pages offers a host of new features and ditches a few of the old, in some cases dividing opinion. To help point the way, WhiteRhino’s web developer and resident wizard Jason sat down to give us the rundown on the pros and cons of the social media giant’s latest facelift, providing a few useful hints along the way on how to optimise the benefits for social savvy businesses.
As with previous Facebook revamps, improvements in functionality, accessibility and user interactivity have been driving factors in the redesign. To this means, several major changes including the introduction of the cover photo (banner image) and larger photo display have been introduced.
“The cover photo is one of the biggest benefits to businesses as that banner space provides much bigger promo capacity than previously available,” says Jason. In addition, the ability to highlight specific stories allows businesses to control what gets priority on their page, pointing visitors to important news and positive feedback over other news.
The improved accessibility of the data and analysis information is also a major bonus for businesses wanting to track customer engagement through their page. The analysis tool is much more akin to that of a blog, says Jason, adding that “while it’s not much different to before in terms of actual tools, it’s much easier to find and use now, saving time and effort when collecting this data.”
Next the newly introduced capacity to direct message (DM) business pages serves to further encourage customer feedback and interactivity between consumers and businesses. In terms of using social media as a tool for genuine feedback and interaction says Jason, this is a big step but one that requires proper handling. “It’s important to acknowledge messages from clients or consumers, whether positive or negative as it can both cut down formal correspondences to help lines and encourage more genial resolutions to potential problems.
Businesses and consumers alike however should be aware of the cons of the new design as there are potential pitfalls for both parties. “The loss of the conversation tracking or wall-to-wall feature is a big one,” says Jason, highlighting how it is now virtually impossible to track interactions between two parties chronologically anymore. This means all wall-to-wall conversation history has been virtually eradicated so there is no paper trail to track interactions that have taken place publicly.
As well as this, apps (e.g. pages like forms or booking info etc.) have now been limited on the home page, making them harder to find and access and in some cases reducing the functionality of the page for some business interactions. Posts in the no longer static timeline design are also now subject to moving around the page, meaning posts not highlighted (including negative comments or feedback) are quickly lost. It’s also now harder to follow a page’s interactions as events are categorised under ‘Activity’ and ‘Likes’ boxes rather than chronologically. This is not necessarily a bad thing for businesses but consumers should be aware of this when posting complaints or feedback.
“Basically, businesses will need to adapt their approach to using Facebook as a tool,” says Jason of the update, recommending all businesses take the time to learn their way around the new features and design, familiarising themselves to avoid unnecessary gaffes and improve the usability of their page.