DIGITAL AGILITY BLOG:

Facebook is Doing Great Things that Will Help Small Businesses! Hooray!

Xynergy
By Marissa Oakeley

In case you haven't noticed, Facebook made some pretty significant changes to their overall look. This new change will impact how brands talk to customers, leverage content, and advertise on the world's largest social network. "Timeline" as it's been called, is rolling out to all Facebook pages on March 29. Some have already made the switch, but if you haven't you still have time to customize pages prior to launch.

What will you have to do as a small businesses in order to be ready for March 29? If you have an existing Facebook page, there are a few key things you need to know about the changes and how it will impact your fan base.

If you don't have a Facebook page, that means starting from scratch will be easy, there's no missing what used to be the "standard." Good news...The majority of these changes will improve the Facebook experience and allow for more rich engagement, sharing of content, and interaction with brands. Here are the most important changesand what small businesses need to plan for by March 29.

Pages or "tabs"...No longer?: This is easily the biggest change Facebook is making. Up to a month ago brands were able to design custom pages or "tabs" that were the default landing page for anyone going to its Facebook page. If companies wanted to set a pageas their landing page to offer special deals, information, etc they could. This is a thing of the past now. The default landing page is the new Timeline homepage, with a large new image covering the top of the page, as well as a smaller image inside of it. Companies can customize both of these images but can no longer have a default landing tab. These tabs now reside right under the top images in a series of tiled boxes that users can scroll through.

Clear and Center Content: Images are more important than ever, and companies can update their timeline to include all of the relevant information in company's history from its 'birth'. Small businesses can also 'pin' important pieces of content that remain prominent for up to seven days. This is a great opportunity to tell your business story that includes history and milestones that can give a fan a true sense of what the company is, where it came from, and build a stronger connection with your fan. Small businesses will have a great advantage in this area because being locally focused and having a story that ties the fan back to your business 'roots' is something bigger brands don't have.

Direct messaging: One of the biggest problems with Facebook was that in order for fans to get in touch with a brand, they had to use the wall. That meant that customer service issues and complaints often had to be handled in public for everyone else to see. Now consumers have the option to privately message with brands in order to handle any issues - positive or negative - away from the viewing public.

Offers are coming: One of the things Facebook wants to do is make it easier for companies to push offers and specials to its customers. Offers are one way that small businesses can source deals and specials through the Timeline, rather than through targeted ads. According to Facebook, offers are like coupons and don't cost anything to create. When someone claims an offer, they'll receive anemail that they can show at the Page's physical location to get the discount. Granted, this will only work for businesses with physical locations but it's still a good way to reward a fan base. Have Fun with Timeline!

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