Here's the gist of Tuesday's major announcement and how it impacts online retailers and other businesses:
Sponsored Groups have been dumped for free profile pages for any brand or business. True, any business can simply create a profile and added friends, but Business Pages are unique.
Here's an example of the Join (RED) Page:
When you friend a brand or store, you become a "Fan." Brands and stores can upload photos, videos and add applications like us civilians. Yes you can *potentially* give Cowbell to Paris Hilton's new perfume or throw a sheep at Nokia. But there's much better, custom applications for Business Pages:
(RED)'s Visit app links off to partner products. Online retailers and brands could link to retail partners, microsites, affiliates, featured products, promotions and more.
The Products app is a slideshow of different (RED) products available from multiple brand partners.
So far (RED) has attracted positive feedback from fans:
One of the most valuable features for businesses is Facebook Insights analytics. You can keep tabs on unique views, number of fans, new and removed fans, photo views, wall posts and reviews (just not user-specific tracking).
Creating a Business Page
It's easy to create a Business Page. Click on the Businesses link in the footer menu, select Business Pages and then 'Create Page.'
You can sync your personal profile with your business for convenience, or log out and create a new account. Just keep in mind that if you sync, your account will be the log in for everyone in your organization who will be administering the business page, and they will have access to your personal account too. It really would be nice to be able to invite administrators like with PPC advertising accounts.
It doesn't appear that you can invite fans from your Business Page when you're synced with your own account. And there doesn't appear to be a way to find the business pages you've "fanned." There should be a link on the left hand menu or top navigation menu but not yet. After I created a page for Elastic Path in my account and navigated away from it, not only can I not figure out how to get back into the page, but it's also not showing up in results for "Elastic Path" in search. ???
Social Ads leverage the mountains of personalized profile and activity information contained in Facebook and make it available to advertisers. Ads can be shown in news feeds, mini profiles or the left hand side of a profile page and are targeted to specific users and work on a CPM or CPC model (complete with analytics and optimization tips).
Leah Pearlman from the Facebook Blog reassures users about the announcement:
First of all, what's not changing:
* Facebook will always stay clutter-free and clean.
* Facebook will never sell any of your information.
* You will always have control over your information and your Facebook experience.
* You will not see any more ads than you did before this.
Here's what is changing:
* You now have a way to connect with products, businesses, bands, celebrities and more on Facebook.
* Ads should be getting more relevant and more meaningful to you.
* You now have the option to share actions you take on other sites with your friends on Facebook.
Engaging with businesses and buying things are part of your everyday life. Advertising doesn't have to be about interrupting what you're doing, but getting the right information about the purchases you make when you want it. We believe we've created a system where ads are more relevant and actually enhance Facebook.
You now have a way to connect with things you are passionate about. We've launched Facebook Pages, which are distinct, customized profiles designed for businesses, bands, celebrities and more to represent themselves on Facebook.
And here is a very diplomatic warm-up for behavioral ad targeting:
Ads will be getting more relevant and more interesting to you. Instead of random messages from advertisers, we've launched Social Ads. Social Ads provide advertisements alongside related actions your friends have taken on the site. These actions may be things like "Leah is now a fan of The Offspring" (if I added The Offspring to my music) or "Justin wrote a review for Sushi Hut" (If Justin wrote this review on the Sushi Hut page). These actions could then be paired with an ad that either The Offspring or Sushi Hut provides.
Behind the scenes, we've instituted a system that tailors ads to you and your interests, which should make ads more appealing. Advertisers never have access to who is seeing their ads, personal information about you, or even what social actions accompany their ads. In other words, all of this completely respects your privacy, while providing you with a better Facebook experience.
You now have the option to bring actions you take outside of Facebook back in. Just as Facebook shares your on-site interactions with your friends through News Feed, we now give you an option to let News Feed share your off-site actions with your friends as well.
For example, adding the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to your queue on Blockbuster.com might be something you want your friends to know about, so you can have a marathon. As usual, you have complete control over this information. Affiliate websites always notify you of any stories they want to send, and you'll have two opportunities—one on the website, and one on Facebook—to opt out of that story. Facebook always gives you the choice to decline a story the next time you log in.
I blogged about the Beacon Project on Monday which allows Facebookers to opt-in to brand messages appearing on their profile mini-feed activity.
Adding 3 lines of code gets you in on the Beacon action. Choose which activities to allow users to publish in their profiles, including purchases, sign ups, adding products to wishlists, reviewing products and services, uploading photos to your site and more. Customers can opt-in to publish this activity on their profiles and become evangelists for your brand or store.
In Web 2.0-ese:
Social distribution, now here is where it gets interesting. When somebody engages with your page, that is spread virally through the network. When someone says they are a fan of your brand, that becomes a trusted referral. It goes right to their Mini feed. A strong trusted referral for your brand. You will be able to craft the types of social actions you want to spread across the social graph.
Mark Zuckerberg, from Web Pro News' Live Blog of the announcement.