[IMGCAP(1)]I opened up my Facebook account last week to find a great many of my friends and family kvetching about the new layout.

At first I got a good giggle out of it. I mean, aren’t we used to changes on our social networking sites? They roll out new things all the time, so we shouldn’t really be surprised. Also, it’s free. It would be one thing if terms we were paying for suddenly shifted, but they didn’t.

But I can understand how this might frustrate some people, since they didn’t know changes were coming. Yes, there were technology sites that had already discussed upcoming changes and given warnings, but not everyone reads those sites. And since the fastest-growing demographic is supposedly the middle-age and grandparent sets, I would venture to guess that most Facebook users were completely clueless about it.

So the changes took place last week and now the layout and news feed are different. Did the world end? No, but that’s not really the point. Facebook made presumptive changes and neglected to tell the majority of their users that these changes were coming. In any business model, making big changes and not bothering to inform your customers are frowned upon. It’s disrespectful (you’ll accept these changes whether you like them or not) and poor customer service.

Facebook is still pretty much the king of social media, for now. Google+ is now out and about, and who knows what may be lurking around the corner. So Facebook is sitting pretty with their changes right now, but they should be careful. If they continue making changes that raise the ire of their users, those same users may eventually get fed up and start looking elsewhere, at the next big thing.

There are lessons to be learned here that can be applied to every business. First, if you’ve annoyed your customers in the past with an action (like abrupt changes), it’s a good idea not to do it again. Listen to their complaints and use that feedback to make improvements and prevent future issues. Second, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Changes aren’t bad, but if there isn’t a plausible need for the change, don’t bother with it. Keep the basics stable while evolving in other areas, if it is possible to do so. Lastly, never do anything that is out-of-the-blue to most of your customers. Get to know your customers and make a concerted effort to alert as many as possible to any changes you may be implementing. For the most part, people just don’t like to be caught off guard, and given today’s technology (and, ahem, social media), it’s actually really easy to share information across all sorts of groups.

So, all that being said, are you still unhappy with your Facebook changes? Have you noticed that some of your friends, family and pages you follow are now mysteriously missing? If so, I’m sorry to say there’s not a button where you can revert back to the old style, but there is a way to get your news feed back to the way you liked it with a few steps. You’ll need to create a list called Everyone. To do so, follow these steps:

• In the left-hand column on Facebook, click Lists.
• You’ll see a short set of lists already created by Facebook. In the upper right of this set, click the button +Create a List.
•    A pop-up box will appear. Type “Everyone” into the List Name box. Then click the Create List button.
• You’ll then be prompted to click Add Friends in the middle of the page. Click it.
• A pop-up box will appear. In the upper left corner, you can select from a drop-down menu. Make sure Friends is checked. You’ll then have to go in and check everyone you want to see in your feed. If you are a “friend collector,” this could take a while, but you should only have to do this one time (assuming Facebook doesn’t change something else.) When you are finished selecting people, click Done in the bottom right corner.
• Back on your home page, click Everyone on the left-hand side, under Lists, to make sure you are in the proper list.
• Next click the Manage List drop-down button in the upper right corner. Select Add/Remove Friends.
• The pop-up box you used to select friends previously will come back up. This time, choose Pages from the dropdown menu and select all the pages you wish to view in your feed. This will mean all updates from everyone will now be in your newsfeed, not just those with the most interactions. Click Done in the bottom right corner.

And now you’re set. From the looks of it, you’ll have to click Everyone each time you log into Facebook, but that’s not too much effort, right? This list is basically going to be the closest you’re going to get to the old news feed. However, it lacks the activity updates that are now in the running ticker on the upper right side of the main page, so keep that in mind.

Also, if you have a business page, this seems to be the area with the most issues, as a lot of businesses are complaining that their posts are no longer showing up in feeds. I’ve also experienced this with a couple of feeds I follow. I had to actively go to their pages to view their posts; they didn’t just drop in my feed. If you are worried your posts won’t show up properly, I suggest you share this article with as many people as you can so that they can learn how to designate the feeds they really want to see.

All in all, I don’t think it’s a huge deal that Facebook made changes. I hear there are more around the corner too. Like any of their other changes, I’ll eventually adapt and move on. Use the fallout from this and apply its lessons to your firm so that you don’t make the same mistakes.

Kelly Googe Lucas is the marketing and social media manager for BBR Marketing, a firm that provides marketing strategy, training and tactical implementation for professional services firms. You can learn more by visiting their Web site at www.bbrmarketing.com.

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