Last week Facebook announced changes to the way users can access their own data and share information with others. Two of these – the ability to download personal information and the ability to better manage applications – are important to the future of the network from a user standpoint. It helps start to rebuild trust with Facebook, especially after the backlash from the spring’s privacy setting changes. By giving users control over their own data and making details about applications more visible, it helps boost credibility.
For social media marketers, the biggest change Facebook has made are Facebook Groups. Facebook Groups allow users to join private groups of people with the same interests. All interaction within the group is private as well. While on the surface, this change can seem disheartening to marketers. Some conversations that would have taken place on Facebook fan pages might be funneled into private channels within the network that are veiled from brands. Plus, advertising and sponsorship opportunities are limited.
The effect of groups, however, can be positive for marketers in the long term. For many Facebook users, they use Facebook to a) post their own status updates and B) scroll through their main news feed (many are also playing games). Much of the conversation occurs on personal walls in response to status updates.
Knowing that a group is private presents new chances to freely interact on Facebook. This can prompt users with a moderate level of activity to have more frequent conversations within the platform instead of quick-hit responses to status updates. It has the potential to encourage people now unwilling to branch out to begin conversing with users outside their groups. Namely, with people that have similar interests on Facebook fan page walls.
And while the conversations occurring within Facebook Groups are private, it still will create MORE conversation. This means more opportunities for consumers to talk about brands and more opportunities for them to share your content. To Facebook’s credit, the addition of groups really gets to the heart of social media: Conversations among people.
It also, hopefully, drives people to be more active on all parts of Facebook, including groups, walls, and fan pages, where companies are increasingly building innovative ways for people to engage with them in an authentic way.