What’s happening with Facebook? A summary

In the last two weeks Facebook have made some pretty sweeping changes to their service. These changes affect not only Facebook, but the whole internet.

Here’s what’s new, in a nutshell:

  1. The Like Button. People no longer “become a fan” of your business; instead they “like” it. Apart from that, the functionality of a business page (used to be called “fan page”) is much the same.
  2. Facebook for websites. You can now put a “Like” button on any website. Highly techie explanation here, but in short, when someone likes your website, it’ll show up on their Facebook profile, and they’ll continue to get updates from you in their Facebook news feed.  (If you have a Posterous blog, it’s already built-in to every post).
  3. Community pages. Sometimes pages have been created for non-organisations (e.g. baseball). Facebook is turning these into Community Pages. For the moment, Community Pages look and behave exactly like Business Pages, but the plan is to make pages Wikipedia-like as more and more people like the page. Speaking of Wikipedia, they’re working with Facebook on this one. More info on Community pages, and the Wikipedia connection.
  4. Big privacy changes. Your Facebook profile information is now more accessible in more places around the web, unless you specifically adjust your privacy settings. Some find these changes quite disturbing. There’s a pretty exhaustive collection of links here. Update: The NZ Privacy Commission has launched the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (and that’s the first time I’ve heard of sweet innocent internet companies being referred to as “multinationals” – have we turned a corner?) … also some good coverage from our friend Courtney Lambert.

Implications for marketers:

  1. Start using “like” instead of “become a fan” in your promotional material.
  2. Install (or get your web developer to install) Facebook for websites.
  3. Stay tuned on Community Pages. It’s all a bit hazy at the moment, but will likely come clear soon.
  4. Ensure you and your family are diligent and informed about your personal privacy options (from the Facebook home page, go to Accounts-> Privacy Settings). If in doubt, don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want everyone in the world to see.

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