Yesterday, I reminded you (and myself!) not to spend more time analyzing FaceBook's new business announcements than you do analyzing your own. I followed my advice and invested the morning tweaking my 2012 business plan. I reserved some time to review some of my old FaceBook posts to assess the big picture of what FaceBook's most recent changes may mean for small business owners. By the way, here's a screen shot of what my new FaceBook profile page looks like.
FaceBook is calling this a “timeline” layout. I think it kind of looks like a magazine, and I like how it looks, especially the nice “timeline cover” (the big picture) at the top. But if like me, you are used to using FaceBook for business, and not just for personal reasons, you may be smelling something interesting in Denmark. Here's what I mean.
- No business page enhancements. The first thing that stands out to me is that there are no Business Page enhancements. That alone speaks volumes. Consider how cool it would be if your Business Page included a huge “timeline cover” showing off your latest holiday collection. Why not? Only FaceBook knows.
- Subscription available only to profile pages. You can subscribe to a person's profile page updates, but you cannot subscribe to Business Page updates. Since FaceBook's policies prohibit anyone from maintaining “an account under the name of their organization, or us[ing] personal accounts to advertise or promote themselves professionally,” it's telling that subscriptions to profile pages, but not Business Pages, are now available.
(I'm still digesting what this may mean, considering that thousands of professionals, especially those who are also brands in their own right, use FaceBook profile pages to promote themselves professionally.)
- Apps for profile pages, not business pages. A host of new apps allow you to share every. single. thing. you. do. or. have. done. Having sushi for dinner? Your subscribers will find out in a matter of seconds. Can't remember when you broke up with your last boyfriend? If you posted it to FaceBook, you (and your “friends” can simply scroll through your timeline to figure it out. (Good luck re-writing your personal history with that kind of option!)
But if a FaceBook Page Liker wants to find a conversation she had with you and your other fans (or likers) about a new product you launched back in August, she'll have to scroll through multiple dozens (or more) screen refreshes to get to it.
What Do I Know?
What do I know about FaceBook's plans? Nothing. They may update their site to add amazing enhancements to Business Pages tomorrow. But they may not (and something tells me …)
My antennae are definitely up in terms of what FaceBook is going with small businesses like yours and mine. I've seen FaceBook cause a tool used by small businesses to vanish overnight (remember Groups?), without so much as a second thought. It would not surprise me at all if they treated some business pages (maybe the ones administered by brands that don't buy a certain number of ads?) in a similar fashion.
Can't Blame FaceBook
Who can blame FaceBook? They make buckets of money selling ads. And the more friends and status updates you post to your personal profile, the more information FaceBook collects about you. The more information FaceBook collects about you, the better they can craft their ad programs.
Stated differently, FaceBook wants everyone to be a customer, ether directly through FaceBook (by buying advertising) or by sharing so much information that the companies that buy ads will buy more ads because the demographics are so pristine and up-to-date. It's pretty simply really.
FaceBook's elves are very busy this week. Who knows how things will look tomorrow. But this sure is plenty food for thought for today.
Back To Your Valuable Time
Oh, and how does all this fit into the advice I offered yesterday? Well, to me, it means it's time for all small and independent business owners to shore up the marketing outlets they own and control. That's the only sure-fire way to let FaceBook be FaceBook without having to change your marketing strategy every time they change theirs. That's no way to run a business now, is it?
Here are a few of my prior blog posts to illustrate the importance of owning and controlling your core marketing outlets:
1. Don't spend more time figuring out FaceBook's plan than you do figuring out your own
2. Twitter is Icing, Not Cake
3. The Illusion of Free (video)
4. The Importance of Owning Your Core Marketing Outlets and Content (video)
5. Did You Panic When Twitter and FaceBook Went Down Today? (video)
Does this resonate? Is it helpful?
So that's how I see it — today.
Question: How do you see it — today?