The Facebook “@” reply and what it means for business

Anya and I have been excessively excited for the “small” change that Facebook made the other day that allows you to use the Twitter-esque “@” symbol to add contacts, pages, groups etc to a conversation pretty much anywhere you would normal post content on Facebook.

For example, on our Facebook page, you’ll see that once I inputted “@,” a drop-down menu pops up where you can choose from your contacts, your groups, your pages, etc.  I was posting up Anya’s post on academics having open access to scholarly work and wanted to attribute it to her, and I also got to let her know that I did so.  You’ll then see the prior post, citing Adam’s thoughts on social media ROI, and his name has been tagged.

Since I’m pretty interested in what this means for viral capabilities, I was playing around with the Walls today.  Here’s what I’ve seen so far  just using Wall postings.

Personal Profile:

  • You can post a status update with a contact name and/or a public profile (businesses/organizations) and your update will show up on their or its news feed.  [Note: It does not seem to update on a group page]
  • If it’s a contact, they will be notified via email, just as they would if you had tagged them in a photo in your own album (assuming they’re set up for email notifications). [Update: if you go to our FB page now, you'll see that Adam has already commented on the link we posted.  Most likely because he was notified that we posted it.]
  • Your tagging allows people to click on the contact/group/etc directly from your newsfeed, or their own home feed.
  • You can only link to contacts that you’re friends with, groups that you’re a member of or pages that you’re a fan of.

Business Public Profile/Page:

  • Much the same as a Personal Profile.
  • You can post an update or a link with the same information as above, and tag someone you’ve mentioned. Again, groups do not seem to be affected.
  • It it’s a contact, they will be notified that they’ve been tagged.
  • Other fans of the page are able to click directly through to the tagged party, whether it’s the author of a posted link or a group that was mentioned.
  • Any fan can post something that is tagged with a contact/page/group that they are connected to.

Implications for business:

  1. You are in front of more people, in places more removed than your page. Being tagged allows you to reach people one layer out, by being able to be mentioned in a way that’s interactive on profiles and pages that are not your own. Because your fans also have these capabilities, anytime you’re mentioned by them, you’re exposed to all of their contacts in the same way.
  2. It draws people back to your page more easily. If your page is tagged “somewhere else” it is much easier for new eyes to connect to your page, click, and be there.  No one has to actually interact with your page directly for that to happen now. If a person is tagged on your page, they’re notified of that discussion, which isn’t directly on their profile.  This will ideally bring them to your page.  All-in-all, you’re drawing people back to your content from further away and in an easier manner.

Still playing around, I’ll update when/if I find new features.

Did I miss anything? Any other cool features you’ve come across that increase virality?  Do I have anything wrong?

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  • Kate and Anya- thanks for posting this- I am doing/learning the same things- interested to see how it transpires...

  • Great Tyson -

    Definitely let us know if you find anything new. It'll be interesting to see how far this stretches.

  • Tyler
    I knew there would be a blog about it...I was waiting! This is really interesting because that was what was so great about Twitter...the accessibility and easy referencing, making expanding your network so much easier. I definitely think it will positively impact business' presences on FB, but do you know if they are doing anything in terms of privacy control? It seems to me that this is more of a user-inteface advantage. So I could mention @othersidegroup in a wall post and it would become a live link but what about @mypretendfriendjoe who has privacy settings set up on his personal account? If I'm the only common tie between him and the rest of my Facebook friends, it won't really matter.

    I'm not totally certain individuals will be willing to remove those privacy setting and open themselves up on Facebook, just because it has been the more private, involved, and personal - in terms of friend base at least - of the social network platforms.

    ...but pages for businesses and those individuals that DO want to expand their networks and "be found"...YES!
  • Tyler -

    Great questions. I believe that privacy issues are still intact. For instance, I don't know your pretend friend Joe, and definitely am not connected to him on Facebook. So even if I clicked on his live link on your profile, it will bring me to the same screen it would if I were searching for someone and needed to connect (assuming their profile wasn't public).

    I think you're right, there won't be a lot of people willing to break down their privacy settings, although I could see some people who have created an entirely professional profile perhaps doing so, as it will make them more viral that way....

    We'll see!

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