Recent Changes to Facebook

The social networking giant released some major updates to its platform last week So for all you who have a  facebook page for your health care, medical or dental practice,  here’s your quick and easy guide to catch up with the recent changes:

health care, medical and dental facebook pages1. Facebook Copies Twitter with “Ticker”

While the News Feed claims to show you stories in real time, there’s still a slight lag, and it’s not exactly as “real time” as you’d think. The new Ticker solves this. Displayed in the top right corner of Facebook directly above the chat pane, like the chat pane, the Ticker follows you throughout Facebook, whether you’re on your News Feed or another user’s profile (or anywhere else for that matter).

Ticker shows you similar stories to what are presented in your News Feed, but it displays these updates instantly, enabling you to quickly identify, jump in, and comment on a story as the conversation is happening. Users can easily click on stories that pop up in their Ticker, view the full story, and comment, all without needing to navigate to a new Facebook page. Additionally, users with larger screens have the ability to adjust the Ticker to show more stories, pushing the chat pane down as a result, if desired.

2. The News Feed Gets a Makeover

These changes combine the former two-tabbed News Feed (which displayed either ‘Most Recent’ updates or ‘Top Stories,’ depending on which the user selected) into one consolidated News Feed. The smarter feed now shows a user stories depending on how frequently that user visits Facebook, with the ‘top stories’ (marked with a blue corner) since a user’s last visit shown at the top:

  • If you haven’t logged into Facebook for a while, you’ll see more ‘top stories’ featured at the top.
  • If you log in frequently, you’ll see more ‘recent stories’ featured at the top.
  • In addition, photos are more easily viewable within the News Feed now that Facebook has made them bigger and more prominent.

3. Timeline: the new profile

Soon, Facebook will be replacing your Profile with what it’s calling ‘Timeline.’

Timeline is based on the premise that, up until this change, a user’s profile mostly consisted of recent updates. In fact, 99% of the stories you shared essentially vanished on Facebook. The new Timeline view of your profile solves this problem, enabling users to feature more stories from their past, organized by points in time.

How Timeline Works:

  • Timeline is wider and much more visual than the old profile.
  • Facebook automatically populates it with content via its algorithm, but users ultimately have complete control over what gets shown in their timeline. You can hide certain stories Facebook shows, highlight stories (by starring them) to show them more prominently, or add important stories that are missing.
  • Users can also access a private activity log of their past Facebook activity and choose stories to add to their timeline.
  • Older stories don’t vanish as new stories are added, like they used to.
  • Timeline acts more like a scrapbook of a user’s past and present.
  • Remember when you could add applications to your profile via boxes? Users can also now add applications to their timelines again.
  • According to Facebook, Timeline is in beta and won’t officially be rolled out to users for another few weeks.

4. Open Graph and App Changes

Facebook has also made vast improvements to its Open Graph to allow users to more easily use, share, and display applications. The improvements also allow users to better discover what their friends are up to and which apps they’re using. They even enable users to instantly join in on others’ activity as they see stories displayed in their News Feed or Ticker. For example, you can instantly play the music your friends are currently listening to or jump in and watch the TV show they’re viewing.

5. Facebook’s New Subscribe Button

Last week, Facebook also announced the release of another new feature, the ‘Subscribe button’ for profile pages. Ultimately, the new feature enables Facebook to support and provide even more publicly available content, which is a huge stride for its position in the search market.

Up until now, users haven’t had much control over what see in their News Feed. On a user-by-user basis, the Subscribe Buttons gives you the ability to choose whether you’d like to see all updates, most updates, or just important updates from another user.

Main Functions of the Subscribe Button

The Subscribe Button, which Facebook promises to start making available on users’ profiles over the next few days, will allow you to:

  • Choose exactly what you can see from people in your News Feed. Facebook users can already view updates from their friends in their News Feed, but using the new button, users can now choose how much will get displayed. They will now have the option of seeing all of that particular friend’s updates, most (the amount that they currently see) of their updates, or only important updates (e.g. just highlights like a new job change or a move). Furthermore, users can also choose how much of what type of content will get displayed, such as photos, games, or nothing at all.
  • Subscribe to people who aren’t your friends. As long as the user enables the Subscribe Button on his/her profile, you can subscribe to view updates from those people in your News Feed as well. This is a bonus for political figures, journalists, artists, bloggers, etc. who don’t want hoards of friends but do want the ability to spread their messages to others.
  • Allow others to subscribe to your updates. Conversely, you can enable the Subscribe Button on your own profile and start generating subscribers to your updates as well. This will allow you to share your updates and content with more than just your friends. You can get even more granular with it, too. If you’ve enabled subscribers, you can limit what the public can see compared to what your friends can see using Facebook’s post-by-post sharing options (e.g. public vs. friends vs. custom). To enable the Subscribe Button on your own profile, visit Facebook’s Subscription Page and click “Allow Subscribers.”

In Conclusion

Technology changes. While it is important to stay current on the newest changes in social media, it is more important to understand the overall goal of sites like Facebook. Facebook wants to provide a rich experience that engages users with content that is the most interesting to them.

Facebook will always change. As marketers, we need to leverage data available through Facebook Insights and other marketing analytics to encourage engagement with prospects and customers. Explore the new changes Facebook has made, and think about how they will potentially impact your target audience.

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