Facebook fan page updates

Facebook updated the design and features of its Facebook Pages last week. For business owners, the upgrade will make it easier to market your business pages. Among other things, you can now “be the page,” which allows you to use Facebook with your business identity, instead of your personal one.

In the top-right navigation, under Account, you will now find a “Use Facebook as Page” option, which lets you switch identities.

For other insights: The Social Path gives a nifty to-do list to take advantage of the new setup. Simply Zesty highlights the best new features. And Econsultancy offers a marketers take on the upgrade.

Facebook, Twitter and you

Digital Surgeons has a tidy little chart comparing the two heavy hitters on the social media circuit. While it’s not immediately clear how useful — or accurate — the information is, the info-graphic provides a fast overview of the two sites’ user bases.

Some highlights:

  • Facebook has 500 million users (70% outside the U.S.)
  • Twitter  has 106 million (60% outside the U.S.)
  • Both sites attract more women than men
  • 40% of Facebook users follow a brand
  • Of that 40%, 67% plan to purchase that specific brand

Such global trends are reflected here in Cambodia, too. The number of local Facebook users has skyrocketed over the past 6 months. Cambodia now claims nearly 200,000 Facebook users, up more than 300% since June.

Many of those new users are local businesses who are now making meaningful connections with new customers and strengthening relationships with old ones.

It’s dead simple to create a Facebook fan page.

Being memorable is a bit more challenging, but not impossible. (For starters: Mashable offers a quick intro to custom landing pages; Tech Crunch showcases 12 plugins that help; Hyper Arts provides an excellent tutorial for the keen do-it-yourselfer; and Custom Facebook Pages serves up a huge gallery for inspiration.)

Fan page promotion is not nearly as difficult as many people imagine, either. In fact, if there is a prevailing wisdom on how to best promote your Facebook page, the idea epitomizes the Renaissance Slacker ethos: Don’t try too hard.

Email is ‘so lame’

Email, apparently, is now “old school.”

The number of total unique visitors in the United States to major e-mail sites like Yahoo and Hotmail is now in steady decline, according to the research company comScore. Such visits peaked in November 2009 and have since slid 6 percent; visits among 12- to 17-year-olds fell around 18 percent. (The only big gainer in the category has been Gmail, up 10 percent from a year ago.)

The slide in e-mail does not reflect a drop in digital communication; people have just gravitated to instant messaging, texting and Facebook (four billion messages daily).

That Facebook is the new new should come as no surprise.

Lena Jenny, 17, a high school senior in Cupertino, Calif., said texting was so quick that “I sometimes have an answer before I even shut my phone.” E-mail, she added, is “so lame.”

Facebook is trying to appeal to the Lenas of the world. It is rolling out a revamped messaging service that is intended to feel less like e-mail and more like texting.

The company decided to eliminate the subject line on messages after its research showed that it was most commonly left blank or used for an uninformative “hi” or “yo.”

Facebook also killed the “cc” and “bcc” lines. And hitting the enter key can immediately fire off the message, à la instant messaging, instead of creating a new paragraph. The changes, company executives say, leave behind time-consuming formalities that separate users from what they crave: instant conversation.

Facebook, of course, has a horrifying record regarding security and privacy. The site is literally an Openbook. So what will happen once it owns half a billion people’s private messages? If nothing else, it’s going to be funny.

How safe is Facebook?

Users in the United States were given access to the Facebook accounts of other people, reports the Associated Press.

“A Georgia mother and her two daughters logged onto Facebook from mobile phones last weekend and wound up in a startling place: strangers’ accounts with full access to troves of private information,” the story says.

The AP does not explain how the mix up happened, but the problem is not with Facebook, apparently. The glitch, “a routing problem,” occurred between the users’ phone and their Internet service provider, AT&T.

Security experts interviewed for the story said they had never heard of a case like this, where users were given access to the wrong account. It’s unknown whether such a mix up is rare, or just rarely reported. Experts agreed that the same flaw could happen with other applications, such as email or blogging services.

READ IT: Network Flaw Causes Scary Web Error

MORE: Ars Technica provides a not-too-technical explanation of what likely happened, including this pithy synopsis:

“So it looks like AT&T did something wrong—even though I wouldn’t call it a “routing” problem—and the company is in the process of fixing things. But Facebook also shares some blame for this situation. Apparently Facebook, like many other sites, doesn’t think the information tied to a user’s account is important enough to protect with something stronger than a clear text cookie.”