While I’m still not totally thrilled with the layout of the new Facebook Fans pages, I can’t deny the new setup does promote conversations. This comes mainly because Fans pages’ responses to questions show up in the news feeds of fans the way friends see status reports. Thus fans see their pages talking (in a way) and are more likely to ask questions or join conversations.
While the upshot is that those of us managing Fans pages now have more lively brands, increased conversations also mean more vigilance and time spent on responses. Much more time. Plus because it’s like a status message, if you’re speaking for a page you have a character limit less than when your response was like posting on a wall. Somewhere in there, Facebook wisely increased the limit to 420 characters, which helps form coherent responses. I take customer service seriously and, given the high visibility of responses attributed to SUNY Oswego from the Fans page, it’s vital answers are helpful and thorough.
On the up side, responses from the Fans page now appearing in the feed of any fans also can spark marvelous organic conversations, like the one above. It began with one future student asking about living in Hart Hall, our international residence hall that also has a community service component. A large number of former Hart residents chimed in on how much they enjoyed it. One person did note that the extra requirement of community service wasn’t for everyone, but others responded it felt more like a reward than a chore. And, best of all, the Fans page administrator could stand back and watch the real experts give their thoughts.
So score one for Facebook here. If the goal in giving Fans page responses similar feed treatment to status updates was to create more conversation, then it certainly succeeded.