Facebook's fan page facelift diminishes brands

Facebook, you make me cry.Today the social network introduced it's new homepage layout and a new look and feel for its fan pages, aka the pages that many brands and their customers are using to interact with each other.

Facebook, you make me cry.

Today the social network introduced it's new homepage layout and a new look and feel for its fan pages, aka the pages that many brands and their customers are using to interact with each other. Fan pages originally had a nice quality about them. They looked clean and were customizable and showed a streamlined feed for information that companies fed into them. If brands wanted to, they could have interactive dialogue via the wall without compromising the flow of news that other members of the fan page wanted to see. Applications, if the brands chose to use them or even pay to develop them, were visible. It was attractive. Did I mention clean?

Now that's all gone.

Facebook's new "public profiles" replace what the "fan pages" were. I believe as of this writing Facebook users can only preview this on the pages they manage (which is what upset me -- my company's fan page was great before) but Facebook listed out a slew of already sacrificed fan pages on it's blog post announcing this news.

According to Facebook:

The enhanced public profiles, formerly called Facebook pages, now resemble the look and feel of Facebook user profiles allowing them to share all types of content to an unlimited number of users. Updates can be brief messages or may include photos, videos, and notes and will soon filter into News Feed, which streams and organizes real-time messages about what people you care about are doing, thinking, saying, watching, photographing, reading and more. Facebook users can easily make connections, comment on posted content and join the online conversations with the famous via their public profiles - just as they can with a family member, friend or colleague.

Awesome. The only problem is that they are ugly. And did I mention, not clean?

Case in point. Here's a very pretty fan page from HubSpot:

On the other hand, here's a very ugly page from Stanford University:

Now Stanford actually looks like a student of Stanford rather than an established university. It can even update its status message. And look, in the middle of all of the quality information it is trying to share, is a wall message from a future student. This could get out of hand real quick (note: previous fan pages had walls but those conversations did not interrupt news flow).

I understand that Facebook has to sway in the direction of the majority and that is, in fact, a more consumer, personal audience. But for businesses -- especially B2B types -- that are trying to derive value out of social networks and trying to create a presence in line with the culture of their company, this small change creates a big hurdle. Not to mention, it diminishes brands, by making their pages look more alike and less differentiated.

What do you think?

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