Facebook Changes: Progress Comes with Price


It seems almost daily that Facebook changes something about Facebook. 

In case you’re not among its more than 500 million active users, here’s a recap of some recent changes:

 

  • New profile pages
  • Improved and continuously improving search
  • Privacy policy upgrade
  • Facebook comments boxes on sites and blogs across the web
  • Better mobile experience
  • New layout for fan pages
  • Deeper engagement analytics for sites to track “like” button clicks

 

 

So what does all it mean? Many agree Facebook wants to conquer the world. So far, it’s doing a pretty good job.

Just last month, the official blog and Facebook page indicated page upgrades now include features that help users manage communication, increase engagement, and allow for more self expression. For example, users now can choose to get notifications about fan activity, likes, and they now can comment on other pages. In the area of personal expression, photos have been updated. You may have noticed your most recent pictures now live across the top of your page.

Search has been made easier, in case you’re looking for something or someone in particular on Facebook. Search filters now list results in sections by organizing pages, groups, and people.

And, Facebook again has tweaked its privacy policy. Assuming users like where it’s going with things, the company will consider making the changes its official privacy policy.

According to the Facebook Site Governance, some of the simplified privacy settings and publisher privacy controls let users select the audience every time something gets posted. The company actively is looking for feedback on this privacy issue and invites questions and suggestions from users. Feel free to let them know what you think.

Companies with fan pages still have a bunch of changes to wade through.

“Facebook is undertaking a lot,” said Ekaterina Walter, social media strategist with Intel. “It really needs to be clear about how its plans and changes impact the brands because brands are its cash cow. Facebook needs to be more strategic and forthcoming in partnering with companies.”

Big brands aren’t given a lot of time to process new changes. Littler brands and companies probably fare much worse in trying to figure things out.

For example, that fancy strip at the top of the page doesn’t work for every company. A large company may not have pictures to populate that area. Now, they have to figure out how to fill it. Also, if you’re a company with zillions of fans, the idea of receiving more notifications may not be appealing.

Jeff Widman, CEO of BrandGlue.com, called Facebook a unifying force across everything and everywhere.

“With some of the new insights stuff and Facebook analytics, every time you click a Like button you’re generating a potential newsfeed story that gets ranked by the algorithm,” Widman said. “Comments also generate newsfeed stories. People are frustrated because they can’t leave anonymous comments anymore on sites that have installed Facebook comments.”

What it means is that people no longer can leave snarky comments online.

“If the algorithm thinks your comment is interesting, it’ll show it to your friends. It will post it to your wall,” Widman said. “Facebook is the social layer everywhere. Long term, it’s unclear whether Facebook’s monopoly on the social identity layer will stifle competition in some ways. Who knows, but you can’t really compete with Facebook.”

Christine Cube is a media relations manager for PR Newswire. You can follow her on Twitter @cpcube.