This week Facebook announced a series of changes to the way users share and link to information.
Specifically, the changes announced this week allow users to:
Some attribute the changes as a response to the meteoric rise of Google+, which was designed from the start to allow granular-level sharing via its Circles feature. The first 3 changes above certainly support this: by allowing users greater control over who sees which individual posts, and where they appear in others posts, it’s certainly a pro-privacy move.
But we think the last two changes – tagging brands and locations – are more interesting for companies seeking to deepen their social presence.
Empowering users to tag brands without having first Liked them removes a barrier for brand reach. Rather than focusing spend on first getting someone to Like a page, brands can focus their efforts on general awareness and activities which foster engagement by both fans and non-fans alike – a broader swathe of customers and prospects that is very promising.
And allowing locations to be tagged is a boon for retail and local businesses, as this positions them to be better discovered via Facebook search. While the changes are not immediately available on mobile, we envision a scenario where mobile users can search businesses via their cell phone’s GPS and discover which of there friends had patronized what locations in the immediate vicinity. This use case is already happening on more niche sites such as Foodspotting; once Facebook turns this on for its mobile app, it can clearly enjoy a much broader application.
We welcome these changes, then, not only for the increased control and privacy they bring to users, but also for the potential value they will add to brands on Facebook.