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Will the new Facebook updates and layout affect the way your small business handles advertising?

Starting within the next week, administrators and owners of Fan pages will receive a special announcement in their Weekly Fan Page Update. This announcement will contain information about the inclusion and introduction of Fan page features. Although many people, including businesses, are hesitant about change, this change should be largely beneficial to small businesses.

According to a Facebook announcement, the pages are getting an updated layout and several new features to help you engage with your fans. The following is an example of what you will be seeing in weeks and months to come:

  • Notifications when fans interact with your page or posts
  • A place to showcase photos along the top of your page
  • A news feed for your page
  • The ability to Like and post on other pages as your page.

Facebook is offering two options: try the new page format out as a “Developer” in a trial format, or you can wait until the new changes are fully released, which is expected to happen on or near March 10th, 2012.  A word to the wise, however: once you elect to make the change, you cannot go back. So if you are short on time for learning the new layout, my advice would be to just wait until the changes are formally introduced.

Once you do make the change, there are a number of obvious differences you will notice.

The first obvious departure from the current Fan pages is a change to the Account menu. It used to say “Manage Pages” whereas the current format says “Use Facebook As Page.” You can then select the page and you will notice a Newsfeed, just as you would on your usual profile page.

At the top of the page, you will see images, and below that is the Newsfeed. This will display posts from those who are most active and interactive on your page- just like your profile page. The new page enables you to post, like and engage directly from your business page. This could only be done from your profile page before.

What will this mean for small business?

One of the main things this means for small business is that a business page will be able to expand and engage with a wider network of people without having to utilize a personal profile. The privacy concerns, and fear of sharing personal information with clients and consumer, associates or partners, is a troubling thought for many people. Without sharing your personal profile it was difficult to broaden your network.

Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:

  1. With every Facebook update, your privacy settings automatically change, necessitating you to manually change them. If you want to keep your profile private and think you can direct people to your page, then you will have to double check these settings and make sure everything is locked because part of our human nature is to be nosy.
  2. Although you will have the ability to engage people directly from the page, people still want to know the “face behind the mask” per se. So take some time to reflect on the personality you want to portray, and stick with that for the duration of your page. If you start with a serious demeanor, maintain that at all times, because people will become confused if you are serious one minute, and humorous the next. Integrate this personality into your posts, comments, and likes.

So, now that we have analyzed what the new Facebook Pages will entail, what do you think the affect will be on your small business?

Google+ Still Dominates Social Media News

Its probably a good sign for Google that the internet is still buzzing about the release of Google+.  I received my invitation to join this weekend and am really impressed with my initial exploration. The interface is clean and crisp.  The ease of creating circles is wonderful. I also really like the ability to choose which circles will see my posts. I am really anxious for the addition of the business pages and hope that doesn’t take too long to be up and running. But most of all, in my opinion the privacy features are an improvement over Facebook’s.

Ultimately, if we do have a war between social media sites, I think it will be over the issue of privacy controls. Mark Zuckerburg has made it clear that he believes social media and the internet should be open – the default should be to share everything. Unfortunately, this fails to take into account the reality of people’s actual lives. Does anyone want to share their weekend debauchery with their professional colleagues? Probably not. Is our choice then to either live completely blameless lives where nothing ever happens that we can’t disclose at the office or do we have to be privacy nazis where we constantly check our wall for an unseemly photo that might slip through by a trusted friend? Perhaps, this is where Google+ really gets it right. If the circles work correctly you’ll be able manage all of your social media in one site and still keep your lives separate.