The Fuel: New, New Facebook Pages

Well, it happened again: Facebook has rolled out more updates that change the way things operate with their recent update to Facebook Pages, which means more work for those of us managing communities and social experiences across the platform (thanks for keeping me in business, guys!) While pretty much every time they make a change to the platform you’ll hear a cry of moans, groans, and “I liked it better the old way!” from across the web, don’t panic: I’ve got your checklist.

First up, a list of things you’re going to want to do before March 10th (the day that all Pages will automatically make the switch).

1) Familiarize yourself with the new interface by using preview mode.

There are a lot of changes to the UI. Tabs (apps) have moved over to the sidebar like on the new user profile layout. Some of your users are not going to be prepared for these changes; you’re going to want to be able to answer their questions like “Hey! Where did the tabs go?” without clamoring to figure it out for yourself.

2) Learn about iframe applications

After March 10th, Facebook will be dropping support for new FBML tabs. That means no more handy dandy static FBML boxes can be added to create quick handy page tabs – you’re going to have to create an iframe app. That’s a big win for developers, because it opens up a whole world of functionality possibilities that were difficult and cumbersome to create before, and a lot that weren’t possible. If you usually work with developers anyway, get them on the phone and make sure you understand what this means. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

3) Start building iframe apps that mirror your Static FBML

In the new layout, tabs/apps on the sidebar have great little icons to help users identify them quickly. Problem is, Static FBML IS an app and has it’s own, rather ugly, icon. Take your static FBML pages and create iframe apps out of them so that when you go to make the switch, you’ll have a sidebar with pretty, professional looking icons, and not a list of ugly gray ones. 

Another good reason to do this: NO new Static FBML after the 10th. What if one of your admins accidentally deletes one? It will take a bit to get it back up in a new iframe app if you’re not prepared.

4) Double check your apps in preview mode

As with all updates to the platform, some things not might work the same way. Find bugs now, and figure out a plan to fix them. Do all the Facebook elements still work (chat, comments etc.)? Do all your apps have icons? Did any dynamic pieces start behaving strangely?

5) Get your profile photo trick ready

Remember back when profiles made the switch and the profile photo trick was the rage? Well, now you can do the same with your page! I’m looking forward to seeing what cool tricks brands can pull after seeing all the great things other people have done.

6) Get the skinny on using Facebook as a page

Now when you post on pages that you administer, you can post as yourself OR the page (handy). Pages can also like other pages, and that shows up in your sidebar. Also, you can view and manage your likes and wall activity via the toolbar in the header, much like you would when you are using the site on your own profile.

After you make the Switch:

1) Double-check your settings

I’ve seen some reports that default landing tabs are being reset when the switch is made. I haven’t encountered that problem, but safe is better than sorry!

2) Set up your featured Likes and Page Owners

These are optional. For most brands, I’d suggest making sure that page owners are not featured, but if you’ve got a cult of personality, this would be a neat feature to help you show them off! You might even show off a celebrity or brand representative if you’re clever about it.

3) Enjoy!

This switch is going to ensure a uniform experience across Facebook. That means increased user retention, and increased engagements. The switch to iframes means you can produce the kind of functionality you can create on any website with much greater ease (if you’ve been working in FBML, you are thanking your lucky stars right now.)

If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry. Keep calm and carry on because, most likely, nothing will break. Then, after the 10th you’ll still have time to get a hold on mastering the experience with this new layout. It’s going to give you a little boost in the meantime.

Have more questions or concerns about the new Facebook Pages?  Ask them below as a comment and I’ll do my best to give solid replies, and point to other information and resources that can help you manage the transition.

Bob Whitney is Front End Developer at Big Fuel Communications, a full-service marketing and communications company based in New York that takes brands from Content To Commerce©.  A unique approach that bridges “people stories” to “product stories” — delivering guaranteed and measurable consumer engagement through branded content and social media.