Spent a lot of time learning about and building out your company's existing Facebook page? Oh well: It's pretty much being upended by March 30, whether you like it or not.

Facebook's latest announced round of changes to Pages, the business equivalent of your personal profile page, go live at the end of the month. They remind me of this great quote from Tom Bedecarré, CEO of mega-agency AKQA, at last week's IAB  Annual Leadership Meeting:  “For clients, Facebook is becoming the Internet," he said. "And for brand marketers, Facebook is the black hole of marketing.”

True enough. And I'm guessing that most of you don't have a mega-agency like AKQA to help you along in the learning/fixing/updating process.

While Facebook extols the virtues of its new timeline-based Pages, I do feel it's important to address the pain these changes will impose upon small and medium-sized businesses. I field weekly inquiries from businesses that don't even know where to start with social networks like Facebook–let alone how to keep up with both the never-ending barrage of new platforms while juggling changes to existing ones.

Complaints & Concerns

If you read up on the concerns of smaller brand Facebook marketers, you'll find comments like "Will the changes never end?" and "How can we recoup dollars spent building out the Facebook Pages we already have?" Others question how to resize images to meet the new standards–new "cover" image at 851 x 315 pixels; profile pictures at 180 x 180 pixels; custom apps at 111 x 74 pixels–or bemoan the change to tabs and the elimination of controlling the default landing page.

There are also rules and restrictions as to how promotional you can be on a landing page you can no longer control. According to Facebook's product guide, for example, cover photos cannot include:

  • Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website.”
  • Contact information–such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section.
  • References to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features.
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”.

(The policy also points out that "Covers also must not be false, deceptive or misleading, and must not infringe on third parties’ intellectual property." But I hope you weren't doing that anyway.)

These restrictions–as well as more prominent and now publicly displayed data "Insights"–have caused some in the social media space to postulate that these changes will only help Facebook sell more ads to deliver those calls to action–or to drive traffic to particular custom tab within a Page.

"We made these updates to add more dimension to what's trending and what's hot right now on the page," a Facebook spokeswoman said of the additional data display. She added that it "provides more insight into what's actively happening on the page at that moment in time."

New Features

Those who like Facebook Page changes point to features such as:

  • Opportunities to do more rich and visual storytelling–with Milestones to highlight new locations, clients, hires, and happenings
  • The ability to "pin" a key post to the top of its Timeline
  • Private messaging–which, like Twitter, will now allow brands to communicate privately with their audiences
  • Better and easier-to-use admin tools

Need help figuring this out on your own?  Visit Facebook's Help Center or download their product guide for new pages. Or hurry over to Facebook's Marketing Classroom for some live help today.