Facebook is about to get more important for Business. Fact.

I quite often hear people saying “Yeh, but Facebook is for family and friends not business, right?” and then normally spend the next 10 or 20 minutes to convince them it isn’t so. It doesn’t always work. To many, the informality of Facebook, the way you can banter with ex-school-mates and existing office colleagues alike, doesn’t lend itself well to ‘promoting a brand”. Yet last week’s announcement from Facebook about the changes coming to their portal is about to make Facebook even more important and a vital business tool.

We often recite the mantra of ‘Content is King’ and until now Facebook (despite already hosting 4% of all photographs ever taken in the world) hasn’t really towed the line with that one, until now. Facebook is moving to a more newsy type-look and will be placing content on a more newsworthy basis. Content now is very important on Facebook.

What changes?

From the 30th September (i.e. today) Facebook will no longer be driven by a long line of posts from those a user has linked to but instead a Timeline and a set of organised post. In fact it is an intelligent timeline that will create more a chronological story or scrapbook than just a series of posts. If you’ve ever seen the impressive Flipboard app on the iPad you will get the idea. Facebook is looking to organise us. That includes the basic like function. This is being opened out to developers given them more scope to create their own versions connected to online activities. That is likely to make users more savvy as to who, what and when they like.

So Facebook will decide what is relevant content to us and place this in our timeline. As a user though you won’t miss out on the other content completely, that will be available as part of a rolling ‘ticker’ on of each user’s home page.

Dspite this apparent information gatekeeping, Facebook claims the new changes will allow you more control over what appears as a top news item as, users will be given more options over these sorts of preferences via new setting controls.

The idea is that with one quick glance users will easily catch-up on the actions of their important friends over the past 24 hours without having to scroll through countless updates “you should see the things you’re most interested in” claim Facebook, yes but not necessarily the most recent. To the writer this move is perhaps more about understanding where Facebook sits alongside other social networks. During the recent UK riots, during live sporting events and reality tv shows, the ‘as live’ action and interaction has taken place on Twitter not Facebook. Twitter has almost become the default for immediacy, Facebook something more of a reflection. In tradtional analogy, Twitter is to TV and radio what Facebook is now becoming to newspapers and magazines. Again that makes content on Facebook even more important.

If you are a business, the stronger or more unique your message the better the chance it will attract interest from an audience. From a user perspective the chances are their top news will become stale for those who log on more than once per day, so any new engaging content will be lapped up

The true impact – and whether it makes Facebook users leave in droves or new sign-ups happen – won’t be seen for months yet, but we suggest you concentrate on ensuring what you have on Facebook is as up to date and relevant to your daily business as possible.

Let us know what you think of the new look Facebook.

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