The Social Side of College Admissions

Facebook's Page Upgrade

February 11, 2011

Yesterday, Facebook rolled out an upgrade to its Fan Page system. Some of you may have caught a glimpse of these upgrades already when a temporary bug allowed admins to see this new design a few months back. We're going to highlight some of the significant changes and what they mean for colleges.

New Layout

The new Facebook page layout mirrors the changes Facebook recently implemented to the personal profiles. Gone are the tabs up top. In their place, Facebook has added a navigation menu on the left-hand side of the page. Personally, they feel a little less prominent to me, but we'll see how it plays out.

New Facebook Menu Replaces Tabs

Switch Between Page Profile and Personal Profile

You can now switch between your personal profile and your role as the page admin. This means that you can now post on a page that you administer as yourself (i.e. as "John Doe" instead of "The University of XXXX"). It also means you can now post on or like other Facebook Pages as your own Facebook Page. So, for example, a college's main Facebook Page could like the Facebook Page of the School's athletic program (or vice versa). It essentially allows you to participate in conversations outside your own Facebook Page as your school's brand. You can essentially browse through Facebook, not as yourself, but as your Facebook Page.

Email Notifications

This is something that probably should have been put in place a while ago. As a page admin, you can now receive e-mail notifications when people post or comment on your Facebook Page. This should be a really helpful feature, especially for folks responsible for a lot of different social media / marketing outlets. For me, this may be the best feature of the new Facebook Pages.

Photos

Similar to the shift on the personal profile, there is now a photo banner at the top of the Facebook Page (I'm only seeing this on the admin view for the Varsity Outreach page, but I assume it's just a bug that will be resolved). It gives more prominence to your photos, which are often the most engaging feature on a Facebook Page.

Facebook Ads

I'm guessing one of the main reasons Facebook is making this shift is to boost the prominence of their ads. The right-hand column of the page, where ads typically appear is significantly wider now (234px on the new layout vs. 147px on the old layout). You can see the size difference below.

Facebook Ad Sizes

Shift to i-Frame tabs from FBML

Up to now, all page tabs used Facebook's version of HTML called FBML. Additionally, the use of javascript was pretty limited on these FBML tabs. On March 11, Facebook will be moving to a system where all new page tabs will be i-frames. This should provide more flexibility to incorporate functionality, to manage design of the tabs, and more. However, it will likely require a little more technical knowledge to use this functionality. Additionally, new static FBML tabs will not be possible. Many colleges have used static FBML tabs to create custom landing pages or to create pages with links and pictures for admissions. Existing static FBML tabs should continue to work. However, one thing we've noticed with our experiences on Facebook, once they stop allowing for the creation of new versions of a feature, the support for existing versions of that feature seems to drop off dramatically. I wouldn't be surprised if Facebook announced the elimination of FBML tags within the next 6-12 months.

Good for Colleges & Universities

All in all, I think the upgrades to Facebook Pages are positive for colleges and universities. If you're a page admin, you can preview these updates and even switch your page over immediately to the new layout. According to Facebook, on March 11, all Facebook Pages will be transitioned to the new layout.

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