New Facebook Page Layout Causes Mass Uprising

Sometime last week, Facebook made good on a threat to significantly change the layout of Fan Pages (business pages, brand pages, etc.) and also the methodology in which they are built. This marks the death bell for FBML, the proprietary mark-up language of Facebook that has spawned a cottage industry explosion of “social media experts” and services who build tab applications like simple Welcome pages. Going forward, all applications need to be built using an IFRAME rather than FBML. Facebook says this is for the better for all parties involved. As developers we have to agree. This straight from the Facebook Developers Blog:

“As of today, you can build your Page Tab apps using iframes rather than FBML. This means you can now build apps that run across Facebook (including Pages and Canvas applications) using the same simple, standards-based web programming model (HTML, JavaScript, and CSS). In addition, you can easily integrate social plugins and the Graph API within your tab.”

So in a nutshell, here are highlights and lowlights:

1. Tabs are gone, and Pages for brands and businesses look a lot more like personal pages. There is a photo strip above the status update window, much like on personal pages.

2. Navigation links in the left column replace tabs. So if you had a Welcome page that new visitors default to when they visit your brand page, it will still work*, but rather than having a tab at the top of your page, it will show up in the lefthand links.

3. Powerful new feature: admins of Pages can toggle between using Facebook as themselves (John Doe) or the Brand (Acme Widget Company). Social Media marketing managers are going to wet themselves over this change alone.

4. Brands who have invested in the development of FBML tab apps will likely have to rewrite these apps at some point using the new iFrame method, but Facebook’s official word on when FBML will be deprecated and phased out has been vague. The Captain recommends you do it sooner rather than later. That crap should live on your own server anyway.

5. A lot of folks have been complaining about the order of Status Updates: the new change apparently applies a ranking to Status Updates, and the most relevant or popular appear top down, rather than in chronological order. I’d be willing to bet, mateys, that Facebook will change this back to chronological, and/or give users the choice. After all, it wouldn’t really be a status update if “What Are You Doing Right Now” didn’t appear at the top of the list.

What do you think on these new changes? Pirate Booty? Cause for mutiny? Couldn’t give a scurvy rat’s ass? We’d like to know.

One Less Fan

It finally happened. I publicly “unfriended” someone. There have been times in my personal experiences with Facebook where I grew tired of someone’s activity, and I quietly “unfriended” that person. There have been other times, for example, during a recent career switch, where I quietly “unfriended” former client contacts that I probably never should have “friended” in the first place. Nothing personal. Life goes on. Just trying to unclutter the stream, the same way you might recycle business cards in your desk of people you’ll never need to talk to again. That’s what LinkedIn is for anyway. But in the case mentioned above, I couldn’t take it anymore. To protect this person’s identity, I’ll just call him “Coach.” I knew Coach from bike racing. Nice kid. Quiet. Humble. From a good family. Then he became a contestant on Survivor. No shit! Of course I accepted his friend request on Facebook, after all, I thought I knew him pretty well. Not sure if he actually does his own Facebook posts or if his “publicist” does them for him, but I noticed the last few months they have become crass, negative, self-absorbed. It was starting to become pollution in my newsfeed. Then there was one post that just sent me over the top, something about not caring about the country’s Gazillion dollar and growing federal deficit, as long as it didn’t affect him personally, he could care less. I posted a comment saying how negative and self-absorbed I thought he had become. Then I promptly unfriended Coach. I should have stayed friends for awhile, so I could have had access to all of his supporters who cussed me out, criticized me (for being critical of Coach), calling me a jackass, wondering why I cared about the federal deficit as a personal matter, etc. I think next time, I’ll just do it quietly. The lesson I learned: I really just wanted to send Coach a message to get him to think about what he was saying, instead I incited a riot amongst his fans and followers. People read this stuff, folks. It’s become a powerful medium, even when it’s just personal conversation.

Fan Page To Fan Page Wall Posts On Facebook

A former colleague in the tourism marketing business recently sought the advice of the Scurvy Pirates to help solve a Facebook mystery. This was an interesting one to figure out: the desired goal was to be able to post on the Wall of a Fan or Business Page, under the identity of his organization’s Fan Page. The problem is, every time his social marketing manager tried to post on another Fan Page, the Wall post showed up as coming from that person, not the Fan Page the person was representing.

Here’s an example: Joe Smith manages a Facebook Fan Page for Big Giant Ski Resort. He wants to make a Wall post that will appear on Ski Utah’s Facebook Fan Page. Every time he does this, the Wall post originates from his personal login, and appears as from Joe Smith, not Big Giant Ski Resort. But Joe really wants the Wall post to be from his business Fan Page, not from his personal account. Maybe he wants to share ski resort upcoming events with the larger fan base of Ski Utah, whose Fan Page is devoted to promoting all ski related businesses within the state. Maybe Ski Utah wants their members to post events on their Wall to create more content and engagement. This is all hypothetical, of course. But it could apply to any Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) trying to foster more conversation and engagement between their membership base.

There is a hack that makes this easy to do, and it doesn’t require any coding, or installing an app, or any sort of log-in trickery. It involves using the Facebook tagging shorthand “@” symbol while making a Wall post on your own Fan Page, and tagging the page where you want your post to show up. You are not really posting Wall-to-Wall per se. You are creating a Wall post on your own page, but because you have tagged someone else’s page, it will publish on their Wall.

In this scenario, Joe Smith would go to his own business’ Fan page and create a new Wall post, including a tag in the post for the Ski Utah page. Here is an example: “Hey @SkiUtah, we’re having Oktoberfest at the mountain. Check the link below.”

1. start out writing the post on your own Wall. When you type the @ symbol and the first letter of the page you are thinking about, you’ll see a javascript drop down menu with all the Fan Pages or people who your Fan Page is connected with.

2. choose one from the menu, and the text will be highlighted blue, signifying that page or person is tagged, and your post will show up on their Wall after you publish it.

3. go ahead and add a link, attach a photo, whatever you normally do in Wall posts.

4. The “@” tagging doesn’t work from mobile apps, and I’m not sure if it works with any desktop Facebook clients like Seesmic.

Caution: this tagging only works if the Fan Page you are tagging is following your Fan Page. And if you abuse this reciprocal way of posting and tagging to get a Wall Post on the target Fan Page (in this case, the hypothetical Ski Utah page), they might delete your post if they decide it’s inappropriate, or worse, they might stop following your page, which would then take away your ability to tag and post in the future. It’s a good hack, and it gets the job done. But use it wisely, and don’t send relentless Wall Post SPAM.

Facebook Moving Ahead With New Page Width and Other Changes

Facebook announced awhile back that they would be making significant changes to how Profile Pages and Fan Pages are displayed, mainly, they would be narrowing the page width to 520 px wide, and would be doing away with profile boxes. For anyone who has custom tab applications that are sized to anything other than 520 px wide, this is going to be a problem and will require you to tweak those tab apps. Today, as I logged in to one of the many Facebook Pages that I am admin for, I saw a little box at the top saying essentially, now is the time to make any changes, as the new 520 px wide pages will take effect the week of August 23rd, 2010. Check out the official announcement from the Facebook Developer’s blog.

K2′s Wild Wild West Facebook Stunt

It appears while many brands are pussy-footing around building out Facebook Fans through their brand pages, K2 walked into town, swung the saloon doors wide open, and just started shooting. Several articles picked up on the fact that K2 recently put a redirect up from their corporate website, and sent all traffic for  limited time to their Fan Page on Facebook. A visitor would default to an application tab that asked for a “Like” in exchange for a sneak preview of their 2010/2011 product line. This raises a lot of questions. By redirecting all site visits to their Facebook Page, are they duping unsuspected visitors to click the “Like” button to get them to the content they were looking for? The point has been made that for many unsuspecting web searchers, this might be a poor SEO strategy, sort of the antichrist version of SEO. Here’s the deal: if you don’t want to “Like” K2, then you can wait 2 weeks to see the product line when their site goes back up. Is it risky? Will someone skip this and then go to the Rossignol site, pissed off that K2 inserted a gatekeeper in the form of a Facebook “Like” as a magic password? I doubt it. I think it’s a bold strategy that wouldn’t work for everyone. Kind of like the kid on skis who hucks the biggest cliff first, the one that everyone else is too afraid to attempt. That kid may not stick the landing, but you have to admire the gusto.

Here are some articles with more details:

Is a Facebook Like Button Click for Website Access Evil?

K2 Skis Redirects Entire Company Website To Facebook

Rumors Circulating That Facebook Will Limit Tab Applications

This article is very disturbing. Apparently Facebook is trying to tie use of 3rd-party developed applications that live on the Tabs of brand Fan Pages with advertising sales. Here is an excerpt below:

“This afternoon Facebook announced via the developer forum that Facebook Pages now need to be authenticated in order to have landing tabs. This means any new visitor to your Facebook Page will not be able to land on a custom tab unless you have greater than 10,000 fans or the Page administrator has worked with an ads account representative. This is a massive blow to smaller companies (or individuals) looking to build their presence through Facebook Pages.”

If this is in fact true, it creates an advantage for brands who can buy their way into developing a tab app. Some smaller scrappier brands have invested in developing tab apps as a way to create engagement and boost their fan numbers. Now they will need to pay, or have 10,000 fans to be “authenticated.”

Here is a real world scenario: SLC-based developer Welikesmall built a robust tab application for Benjamin Moore Paints Fan Page. At the time the application was launched, Benjamin Moore had roughly 5,700 fans. They spent a lot of money to build and launch the application, then had a PR and paid-media drive to bring more visitors to that page. A very publicly-reported campaign, rumored to be in the neighborhood of 15 million dollars, including TV, print, and a high-percentage spent on social media. One could assume they spent a lot on ads with Facebook, and they would have had no problem launching the campaign with “authenticated” status, due to their ad buy. The goals were to gain more Fans, and have visitors participate in their Forum, part of the application that Welikesmall built. A month after launching the application, Benjamin Moore has over 15,000 fans.

Benjamin Moore Experts Facebook App

Benjamin Moore Experts Facebook App

What do you think of this move by Facebook?

On Facebook Privacy

A lot in the news lately about concerns over Facebook Privacy Policy changes and settings. At the end of the day, we as users choose to use Facebook or not. Some of us are addicted to it. I’m really glad Consumer Reports is now as concerned about how we manage our existence on Facebook, in the same way they are about sticky gas pedals on Toyotas and fold down gates on baby cribs, as if they ever have been able to save us from ourselves. Here’s the rub: Facebook provides a variety of Privacy controls that people have access to to limit how much of their stuff is out there for everyone to see. If you look at the article from Consumer Reports, please consider the advice on Privacy Settings. It takes 2 seconds to globally set all of your information to viewable only by Friends. Everyone should do this, unless you are using your Facebook profile for business networking. Go to Account, then choose Privacy Settings, and go through the list and change everything to be viewable by Friends or Friends of Friends only.

Change your Facebook Privacy Settings.

Change your Facebook Privacy Settings.

Thoughts on the Splinternet

I’ve seen this term getting tossed around a lot lately, the splinternet, more so in the last few weeks than ever before. After all, Apple claims to have sold over 1 million iPad devices in 28 days (about half as long as it took them to sell 1 million first generation iPhones). Facebook has begun colonizing web content on other site experiences by rolling out their “Like” feature. The rumors out there estimated that over 50,000 external sites had already implemented the simple line of code from Facebook in just the first week it was released, so visitors to these external sites could share content within Facebook. Then there is Google. Google has benefited and profited mightily from bringing the web together, and serving ads within alongside the order inherent in the chaos of the web. But this chaos of information, neatly indexed and ranked for relevancy and recency is not the endgame any longer. Facebook is colonizing content on the web that is locking Google out behind their user’s IDs, and Apple is pushing and perpetuating their own proprietary platforms. And they are controlling every aspect of that experience: from apps to ads to analytics.

To the casual web user, this concept is maybe too high-level to be aware of over the course of everyday web browsing, status updates, and app usage. This is all pretty new stuff. What do you think? Bernoff’s article seems to set up this epic battle of Apple vs. Facebook. I’m not so sure if it’s one vs. the other. I think it’s more like this:  Apple+Facebook+Google= a totally new web experience.

Thoughts?

Facebook Newsfeed Primer

If you are developing Facebook apps, you probably already know this. If you are an agency or client thinking about hiring someone to develop a Facebook app for you, this post will hopefully give you some guidelines so you can keep it real. And not have your developer want to kill you.

Everybody wants a Newsfeed. We are entering the dawn of the Newsfeed Spam era on Facebook.

If you create an application for fans (or now they should be called Likers) and expect to have a newsfeed article distributed in that person’s feed when they interact with your app, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. First you have to develop an application that users must add, and allow permissions to publish stories to their wall and newsfeed. You can then have the application live in a tab on your Fan Page (this is optional. You can also direct people to the App’s url to interact with it, but it probably should live in a tab. More on why you should do this later. That’s another post). One note, your application can’t truly live within the tab in static FBML. The app has to be hosted externally. But you can have a static landing page or “jump page” that is contained within a tab. Think of it as this: the tab contains a landing page with a Call To Action (something like “Go To The Application. The user clicks this, and then is redirected to the application URL).

2.  Keep the text of the newsfeed under 420 characters. Otherwise it will generate an error and not publish. Tell the copywriter to keep it in his pants.

3. You can have a small image contained within the newsfeed, up to 90px X 90px.  You don’t have much control over the placement of the image within the newsfeed. So don’t even think about asking your developer to move the image around. That will only lead to despair.

4. You can also have the App icon show up in the feed. This is usually a small 16px X 16px thumbnail, like a website’s favicon. Give some thought to a good icon for your app.

An example of a Facebook Newsfeed generated from a 3rd-paty App.

An example of a Facebook Newsfeed generated from a 3rd-paty App.

Questions? What do you think of Facebook apps? Use them? Hate them?