Just like many of us predicted… Facebook is changing. And it doesn’t seem to be making that change for the better. Could it be because of the IPO and a need to prove their insanely high valuation? Quite possibly. Here’s what you need to know about the Top 3 Facebook changes and what they may mean for you as a user or as a brand:
Timeline for Pages
They’re here. Launching on March 30th every business page will be using Facebook’s Timeline design. You now have the opportunity to tell your entire brand story by using the equivalent of “Life Events”, featured content and of course the well-received Cover Image. However, you are losing custom tabs! They’re now moving into a App area which will be located under the cover image. So all that hard work and money brands invested in “like-gates”, imported iFrames and so forth is being made almost irrelevant.
Newsfeed & Logout Ads
Users will start seeing brand content in their feed. Not all ads, but what Facebook deems “interesting content”, so very much like it is now. However, the way things stand right now… your fans are only seeing about 16% of all your updates. Facebook aims to fix that and reach the other 86% by having you use the Reach Multiplier – which reruns status updates as ads.
Another idea to note here, and this is still a bit murky… is that if YOU don’t “like” a brand page, but your friend “interacts” with it… you may see some of those brand’s status updates and ads in YOUR newsfeed.
Oh yeah… there are now also going to be logout ads. You know how some shady websites have those annoying popups that try and stop you from leaving? Well, think of this as a classier (and more expensive) version of that.
Traditional Payment Model
Remember the day you first used Google AdWords and realized that you could pay for performance only, by paying per click? That was the new frontier of digital marketing where websites could be held accountable based on the performance of ads and you as a brand would only pay for ACTIONS (aka clicks). Well… Facebook is taking a giant leap backwards and making you pay for impressions. That’s right, the old traditional model of advertising is back and this time all over our favorite social media network. Facebook partnered with Nielsen to basically duplicate television’s model, using Gross Rating Points. You can probably thank the IPO for that.
The argument is, much like the case traditional advertising channels make to prove their effectiveness, that although someone may not click on an ad, just seeing it may have influenced them to consider purchasing that brand’s product or service. This will be active for the those using Reach Multiplier and newsfeed components, dubbed Premium ads.
What does this all mean?
It’s quite clear this is a big push towards revenue and there is a significant shift of focus from users to brands, which could spell the beginning of the downfall of Facebook. The only reason they are able to make these moves is because all of us, over the last 4 or so years, deposited our personal information into the network. Status updates, photos, life events, videos, links, relationships… all ripe to be used and potentially exploited.
By blurring the line between friends and brands, users may start unliking pages. They may start the migration to the welcoming arms of Twitter or Google+. Brands may not be too keen on losing custom tabs or paying for impressions, like they did before the digital marketing revolution.
Facebook is a behemoth whose influence is far reaching and very powerful. But so were AOL and MySpace.
What do you think of Facebook’s new changes?
– Ernest // Follow me on Twitter