Back in December Facebook unveiled a significant redesign to user profiles, which now feature a handful of photos at the top of the page, new sections for featuring your family members and best friends, and some other mostly-cosmetic tweaks. Today, the site is launching a similar design for ‘Facebook Pages’ — the public profiles used by brands, businesses, and celebrities to communicate with thousands or millions of fans at once.
The new Pages incorporate many of the changes made during the December redesign: you can now feature images at the top of the page. Application tabs are being moved from the top of the profile down to a sidebar just beneath the profile image. And there’s a widget that shows what ‘Likes’ you have in common with the Page. Which brings us to some of the more interesting changes.
Facebook is now giving Pages much of the same functionality available to normal users — you can browse Facebook as if you were the Page (it’s not as confusing as it sounds). For example, I could take control of the TechCrunch Page and leave a comment on Chipotle’s Page saying that we really enjoy their burritos, and the username leaving the comment would be TechCrunch.
Pages can also ‘Like’ other pages. So, for example, I could steer the TechCrunch page over to Enya’s official fan page and ‘Like’ that, and maybe I’d swing by Google and Apple and ‘Like’ those too. Status updates from each of these pages would then appear in my News Feed (yes, Pages now have a News Feed as well).
When you’re logged in as a Page your notifications window will let you know as people leave comments, and the button that normally displays friend requests will now tell you how many Likes you’ve received since you last signed in. And, in response to what Facebook says has been a highlight requested feature, admins can receive get updates via email as people interact with their Pages.
One other interesting change to the Pages themselves: before now, Facebook didn’t really do anything to sort comments that were being left by other users — they’d just be shown in reverse chronological order. This led to a whole lot of noise, and made the comments mostly useless on popular Pages. Now Facebook is using an algorithm similar to News Feed to sort these comments based on who left them (if you’re friends with someone who left a comment on a Page, you’ll see that on top), how much engagement the comments have received, and whether the comment is left in a language you understand.
Facebook is allowing Page owners to preview the new design for the next four weeks (you can upgrade at any time). On March 10, the change will be mandatory for everyone). And yes, the new features should play nice with Place pages — if you merge a Place page with a normal Page, then the result will include the revamped design and features, in addition to the Place tab (yes, that last bit was confusing).
Some of these changes are pretty significant, particularly the move to expand how much Pages can interact with users and other Pages. I imagine we’ll start seeing some interesting exchanges as brands and celebrities start responding to each others’ posts.
Note that we saw some of these new features briefly in December, when a number of Facebook features went live because of a glitch.