Tips on keeping up with Facebook’s recent changes

With the birth of Google+ and the growth of other platforms such as Twitter and FourSquare, Facebook has been forced to evolve and change by the day. Monday arrives, we open Facebook and holy crap, things are not where they used to be! Some people love it, others hate it but at the end of the day, we must adapt and move on. I don’t mind the changes, all in all they’ve been good (except with the new chat, which I still don’t get!). My only issue with these changes is, that exactly, change. With every little tweak Facebook does, we Social Media Managers need to adapt our strategies and educate our customers and brands on the how and why.

These past couple of weeks we’ve noticed some major changes on Facebook, here’s some tips on what they are and how they can work to your advantage.

1) Security: This is the main and most important change we’ve seen on Facebook lately. If you were not an avid Facebook user, privacy settings were pretty much a nightmare, most people actually had no idea what information they had been sharing or not. The new “Privacy Settings” page is now easier to use and it also allows you to manage tags and even past posts. Other than being able to set your privacy via the main tab, Facebook now allows you to customize who can see certain status updates, photos or anything else you post on your profile.

2) Brand tagging: This is a major change if you work as a Social Media Manager as this allows you to tag any person or page whether you’ve “Liked” them or not. I have noticed myself a little hiccup in this feature lately but for branded Facebook pages and companies who market though Facebook, this is a major breakthrough. I’m very reluctant to “Like” pages personally but I’m open to tagging a company if I need to mention them on my profile. Companies need to be on their toes about what customers and people are saying about their brand as this makes it much easier for anyone to tag them whether they have something nice to say or not!

3) Photo Tagging: If I could name one thing I hate about Facebook I’d have to say photo tagging. There is nothing worse than “tag-happy” people who will tag you on anything and everything, from your hand to the bike they’re trying to urgently sell.  With the new privacy settings you can change this in order to approve any photo or post you are tagged in before it’s visible to anyone else on your profile… finally!

3) Goodbye Facebook Places: Well, not really, but they have changed in dynamics. The term “Check-in” now only applies to FourSquare as on Facebook you can now tag locations in your status update. What does this mean for brands? Users can add locations from anywhere, no matter if they’re using their mobile phone or even a computer, this opens the door for brands to reach out with deals and promotions.

4. Photo Viewer: Alas the photo viewer finally changed! This one really used to bug me as the aesthetics were terrible. Now it’s white, clean and has all the available tools for interaction. Another new feature you probably haven’t noticed is that shared photos are larger (750 x 960px) and load twice as fast.

5. Your Wall: The wall has suffered some considerable changes in the past couple weeks. The new “ticker” is pretty much the ultimate stalking tool and the main feed has become quite similar to that of Google+. Photos show larger, which is quite nice and of great advantage for Facebook Pages, no longer must brands try to squeeze content in an 100x100px space! “Top Stories” are now being added to your wall, they can become annoying if you personally don’t think it’s a Top Story, just “unmark” it and voilá, it’s gone! I like the new wall, photos always speak louder than words, somehow it seems cleaner and easier to follow.

What’s on the drawing board for Facebook? On September 12th Facebook will be making an upgrade to their API for Facebook Connect. In theory nothing will need to be done for the change but you might have to tweak a little on the settings. I suggest you keep an eye out if your company website relies on this tool.