Over the past few months Facebook has rolled out multiple changes to business pages. The latest buzz surrounds the iFrames fiasco, but that’s not the only thing that has page owners near the breaking point with both their sanity and their piggy bank. Has Facebook gotten so fancy that they’ve forgotten why everyone enjoyed using it, which was easy, cheap, and fun? And, can folks just now jumping on the bandwagon ever catch up? In this comprehensive post, you’ll discover what happened and how, plus what you should wait out until the dust settles.
Biz Page Brief
For those not familiar with business pages on Facebook, they used to be called Fan Pages. Anyone with a personal profile could create another page on any topic and it included additional Tabs, or pages for more info on the subject. In effect, it served as a mini website on Facebook. Business owners flocked to it and began hiring programmers and graphic artists to create these mini pages. Soon, social media coaches were selling classes on how to make the most of it. In other words, Facebook suddenly became good for business and spawned an entire side industry.
The iFrames Fiasco
Almost a year ago, Facebook announced that they would be moving away from their proprietary programming language called FBML (FaceBook Markup Language), to iFrames. It was hoped that app developers would get busy making easy ways for folks to switch over their biz page programming. And they did, for a price.
However, most programmers and page owners waited until a week or so before the deadline to make the change and that’s when the chaos began.
Secure Log In
Just prior to the deadline, a video was released where a hacker demonstrated how he could gain access to someone’s Facebook page when they were using a wi-fi connection. Even though no malicious hacks had occurred, it only took days for a post about logging in using a secure connection to go viral. So, most users switched to a secure log in by using https instead of http to access their Facebook page.
Unfortunately, the secure login wrecked havoc on new iFrames apps and pages. There’s no telling how many folks burned the midnight oil trying to fix the bugs, and all of it was unnecessary.
The deadline was to cut off any new FBML pages from being created. All FBML pages already in existence would remain functional. So, there was no real need for anyone to rush to create an iFrames page if they already had an existing FBML page.
The worst part is, all of the bugs are still not fixed and now everyone using Facebook on a secure login repeatedly experiences errors and denial of access.
More Biz Page Boo Boos
One of the well-received changes has been the ability of biz page owners to follow, or Like, other biz pages.
The caveat is, biz pages, and other potential clients, can’t follow non-biz pages. So, if anyone is using their personal profile to promote their business, they are missing out on being Liked by anyone.
On the flip side, followers (fans) can’t send a message to a biz page. They can only write on the Wall of the page, and only if the page owner allows folks to do so. In other words, biz page owners don’t necessarily have a good way for folks to contact them directly or privately. Bad idea.
No More Auto Posting
Facebook also changed the way pages are ranked. All those that use 3rd party apps to auto-populate their pages from their blog were rated lower and the posts don’t show up well in the News Feed of followers. In short, fewer folks see it. (Read how I changed my posting habits and the results.)
Integrating Comments and Like Button
Facebook has also released a new Comments app for your site but it doesn’t play well with others. You can use it and nothing else, or create a convoluted mess where you offer two or more ways for folks to leave comments. As hard as it is to encourage visitor engagement, most folks can’t afford to make it difficult for viewers. If the new app allows the viewer to choose posting comments on your blog only or sharing that comment on Facebook, great. But until then, most folks are not placing it on their site.
Facebook has made it possible for you to include a Like button on your site, including every blog post. But, they’ve recently changed the properties so that it acts more like a Share button. That sounds great, but the problem is, instead of just sharing a link on the reader’s Facebook profile, it now shares a full excerpt and isn’t very good at choosing an appropriate thumbnail image from the post. Marketers are delighted about the idea, but readers are less likely to click the button because of how it displays the post on their Wall. Less clicks means less sharing, and marketers won’t like that for long.
Show Me the Money
Just this past week, Inside Facebook reported that app developers are being asked to discontinue using Google Adsense and move to an approved ad network. This only heats up the ongoing battle between Google and Facebook.
What About Me?
Since Facebook is the number one referrer of visitors to the BlogAid site, and I consult with clients about their online marketing needs, I have to keep up with the changes. There are even some businesses that choose to operate exclusively on Facebook without an external website. It’s very risky, but for some, very profitable.
As for iFrames, I still use the same ‘ole FBML code on BlogAid’s Facebook Welcome page and I’ll continue to do so until the secure log in bugs are fixed. Sometimes being on the bleeding edge cuts both ways. Like many of you, I have clients to tend and I don’t have time to create unnecessary chaos for myself. Those that made the switch are experiencing blank Welcome pages. Since Facebook extended the FBML cutoff date a week, some reverted back to their old pages.
When I do switch to iFrames, I’ll probably be using one of these two apps: Static HTML Plus or TabPress from HyperArts. I’ve been in direct contact with both developers and have been very impressed with their efforts.
I’ve gathered a lot of great ideas while doing my homework on the iFrame changes and will be hiring a graphic designer to help pimp my page. Plus, I’ll be including a FanGate (also called a Reveal Tab) that shows one thing to non-fans and a different page to folks who have already Liked the page. (This is great for offering a gift to followers.)
If you’re using your personal profile for business, you may want to consider creating a business page so you can take advantage of all the B2B offerings and multiple tabs (pages) that allow you to post more content and specials for your viewers.
Definitely consider ditching your 3rd party app to auto-post on Facebook from anywhere else, like your blog or even Twitter.
Mari Smith is, by far, one of the best folks to follow on all things Facebook. She has generously made available several helpful resources, including a list of apps of all sorts, and frequently asked questions. http://www.marismith.com/15-frequently-asked-questions-about-facebook-pages/
If you’re new to Facebook, Mari and other fine coaches teach primer courses to help you hit the ground running.
Tell Your Story
How have all of the Facebook changes affected you? Share what’s working and what’s not with moving the needle on your business.