Facebook Fan Page Updates Get a New Home

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Missing Out On Facebook Page Updates? Here’s Why.

As you may have noticed, Facebook has gone through a lot of changes recently. Privacy settings, the public news stream and Groups have all gotten an overhaul. Some changes were more policy-based, others design or visual tweaks; most recently, the Facebook team updated the layout of the home page. ButPicture 2 tucked in amongst the last several rounds of revisions to the site was one small change that is a much bigger deal than most people have realized: the “Updates” notification has moved.

Status Updates vs. Inbox Updates

To explain why this could be such a big deal, it’s important to distinguish “Updates” with a capital “U” from “Status Updates” that appear in the news stream or changes to the site that are just regular old updates or changes that any kind of website would make.

A proper “Update” is something I often refer to as an “Inbox Update,” as this type of message is displayed like a private message in your Facebook inbox, except that it is from an administrator of a Facebook Page and can be sent to an entire Fan Page population.

OK, so when I said this change was a big deal to people, I mostly meant marketers. However, I first noticed this while checking Facebook as an average user, reading inbox messages and accepting friend requests. So it may have consequences for “regular” Facebook-ers as well.

I’m somewhat of a picky Facebook Page fan-er; I only want to “become a fan” of brands I really, really like and want to get information from. I have what I call an email list mentality about Facebook Pages; if I wouldn’t sign up for your email list, I don’t want to display your logo on my profile. Because I’m so particular, I look forward to seeing information from my fanned Pages both in my news stream, as a Status Update, and as an Inbox Update.

Facebook Redesign Relocates Page Update Notifications

But somewhere along Facebook’s winding path of redesigns, the Fan Page Updates notification icon got lost. It used to be prominently displayed on the Home page, with your Friend Requests and other action items. It disappeared a few months ago, when “Live Feed” came to the news stream. Then the most recent redesign moved Messages, Friend Requests and similar actions that require attention to the lefthand side of the page. And still, Fan Page Updates are buried as a subset of Messages.

Yes, this is the form of communication they most closely resemble, but there is no notification system to alert you to new Updates from the standard home page. You have to know to click through to Messages and look for Updates. From a design standpoint, it would simply be one more line on this secondary, lefthand navigation; it appears once you have clicked through to the Messages page; why not the Home page? And since many of these Fan Page messages are time-sensitive, it seems like a Home page alert would help you get more value out of the brands you fan.

Making Facebook’s New System Work for Page Marketing

As a marketer, this means it is that much harder to reach your fans since they are not being alerted to a new message upon login. Users are becoming more comfortable playing with Privacy Settings, and one of the first things many turn off is email alerts, so it’s a safe, yet scary, bet that many fans will never see an “Inbox Update” thanks to the new redesign.

Picture 4This does not mean you should stop sending out these communications; you just need to work on your content distribution strategy and spread messages in several ways. Inbox Updates are great for providing detailed information or giving a message a more personal touch, while Status Updates should be kept brief and most likely link to content elsewhere. Even though your fan base probably shares many common interests, personal preference will make them gravitate toward one type of communication or the other, so it is important to continue to provide both.

Facebook Page Politics

So why isn’t Facebook giving Inbox Updates the level of prominence they previously enjoyed? It’s hard to say for sure, but many of their recent decisions have been focused on the business side, as opposed to the personal users, and it seems that they are really trying to control how brands use Facebook to promote their product or service. This is probably one more case of Facebook pushing business Pages to the background, in an effort to promote the more personal interactions the site was founded on.

Facebook has also started feeding Status Updates into Google’s and Bing’s real-time search, so this could be an effort to encourage Page marketers to use Status Updates instead of Inbox Updates to promote content, thus giving them more real-time search results to feed to the search engines. Again, if you are running a Facebook Page, I encourage you to use both types of communication with your fans. And please note that you need to add the “Links” app to your Facebook Page in order to get Status Updates to appear on both the Page Wall and the newstream.

2 Comments

  • [...] few months ago, I talked about how Facebook moved the notifications for Page updates to a subset of the Facebook private messaging system. Basically, they buried them. Go check your [...]

  • Very well-written article, I never even thought about the theory that
    Facebook hid the Updates inbox for SEO purposes, but it makes perfect sense!
    I always just assumed they were trying to separate themselves from Myspace,
    where profiles are just overwhelmed with comment-spamming from bands and artists…
    If I could have it my way I would make it so that a user should be able to control what pages they want to receive messages from in their regular inbox, and the Updates folder should be viewed as a ‘junkmail’ folder instead.
    I don’t see how Facebook is really winning on this anyway, since companies can just design a Static FMBL app on their page and make it the first tab a user sees when entering the page, where they could
    have a “Sign up for our Newsletter” form. This means they would use Facebook even less as a means for communicating with customers…

    Comment by Elodie — August 5, 2010 @ 8:38 am

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