After a long time spent making promises, Facebook finally got around to updating their business pages last week, and they are looking good. For a start the pages now display in much the same way they do for other users, making it easier to arrange text and images effectively. There is a much bigger change, however, and this is in relation to competition.
Knowing that business owners are likely to be interested in what their competitors are up to, Facebook has created a new hook to keep them on their site longer. This involves ranking similar pages according to their social capital, making it easier to keep track of competitors and work out how well the business's own page is doing in comparison. It is easy to go from this to clicking on the top-ranked pages and finding out what is working for them, or establishing which market niches they may be failing to cater to.
Encouraging businesses to get more competitive is, of course, a big plus for Facebook, as it effectively encourages them to spend more on promotion. When the pressure mounts, it will be important for marketers to remember that Facebook is not the whole of the internet and that, even with a very similar strategy, they might not be reaching or competing for the same demographics as those at the top.
Competitor information is broken down into new page likes, total page likes, posts per week and engagement per week. A column on the right-hand side of the new business page also displays this data for the owner, making both quick comparisons and general monitoring easier. Unread notifications and messages are also highlighted in this column and there is a new, direct connection to admin tools to speed things up.
The standard version of a business page that the customer sees has now also changed, bringing it more in line with Facebook’s appearance on mobile. It has a column on the left-hand side that keeps all contact information organized and easy to access, including things such as opening hours, street address, phone number and map, thereby boosting its usefulness for local search.
The update comes hot on the heels of changes to Facebook’s news feed, changes that were also in the works for a long time. As with most Facebook updates, this is currently meeting with change-resistant user criticism and it is too early to tell how successful it will be; however, it certainly looks interesting for marketers.