September 21, 2011, 1:12 PM

Facebook makes Pages more social

The social network has added a Friend Activity tab on retailers’ Facebook pages.

Lead Photo

When a consumer visits a retailer’s Facebook page, he can now see all of his friends’ interactions with that brand on the social network via a new Friend Activity tab. The tab highlights when a shopper’s friend Liked, commented on, mentioned, tagged or checked-in to the business.

The tab appears on the left navigation bar on Pages. Next to the tab is a number that indicates how many of a user's friends have interacted with a particular page. For instance, a Facebook user who visits the Page of the Chicago bar Bangers & Lace might see “Friend Activity (1).” Clicking the button he sees a friend Checked In at the pub last week and noted “amazing bloodies and brunch.”

“We think that surfacing these stories from your friends will make people’s experiences with Pages more relevant and personal,” says a spokeswoman for the social network.

Facebook also eliminated the requirement that users have to Like a Page to be able to post on the Page’s wall or comment on its updates. Consumers can now Like and comment on any post marked public on the site. The change could open up brands to more negative feedback.

Making merchants' pages more social is part of a broader effort by Facebook to increase consumers' interactions on the site, which, in turn, provides Facebook data that it can use to make marketers' ads more relevant to consumers, says Will Hutson, director of social activation at marketing agency Carrot Creative. One example of how Facebook has sought to make ads relevant to consumers are Sponsored Stories, an ad format on the social network that enables companies to pay to highlight posts or actions that a consumer’s Facebook friend has made that relate to the advertiser.

"If marketers can create more targeted and relevant ads, it is a better experience for everyone," he says. While Hutson declined to comment on any new ad formats Facebook may roll out, he says any new products will be along the same lines as Sponsored Stories.

The social network's moves come as the social network begins to overhaul its look and feel in the build-up to its f8 Developers Conference this week. Yesterday the social network revamped its news feed. The news feed, which is the first page a consumer sees when logging onto the site, now features the content that Facebook considers most important to that user based on his actions on the site; for instance, if a friend's post receives dozens of comments or Likes, it’s likely to be a top story. For a consumer who has not logged into the site in a while, the first thing he will see are photos and status updates marked with a blue Top Story icon that notes that the content was posted when he was not on Facebook. Consumers who check Facebook more frequently will see the most recent content first. 

Consumers can also control what the social network displays as a top story by clicking on a top story and clicking either “Mark as top story” or “Hide story.”

The social network also added an unfiltered live Ticker that features updates on what all of a Facebook user’s friends are doing at that moment, such as if someone clicked that they Like a particular brand or product.

Meanwhile, Google Inc. yesterday opened up its social network Google+ to all consumers, not just those who were invited to join.

And to promote Google+, this morning featured a large blue arrow pointing to a link for the social network. Google also added the Google+ search box at the top of the page on Google + that aims to return relevant people and posts, as well as popular content from around the web.

“If you’re into photography, for example, then you’ll see other enthusiasts and lots of great pictures,” wrote Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of engineering, in a blog post. “If you care more about cooking, then you’ll see other chefs and food from around the globe. In all cases, Google+ search results include items that only you can see, so family updates are just as easy to find as international news.”

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