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In late October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the head of Facebook Platform, Ethan Beard, provided insight into the future of the platform in the company’s inaugural road map address.

Overlooked by almost every marketer, media company and agency were major changes Facebook announced to current pages, used by businesses and organizations worldwide as their primary Facebook presence. The changes significantly affect how brands can leverage Facebook and will break many brands’ Facebook Pages if they do not make significant changes.

While Facebook has not committed to a definitive launch date for these changes, the Facebook developer site provides a rough date of “late 2009 / early 2010” for the changes to go live. I’ve heard that a mid to late January 2010 launch is most likely.

The Boxes Tab and Applications
The most important change to Facebook Pages will be the treatment of how custom content is integrated into brand Pages. Posting content on the Wall of Facebook Pages is a great way to spread a brand message by allowing Fans and others to comment, like and share the content. But many companies need to go further to set up a brand presence and add custom content to the Page to highlight promotions, applications, links and more.

There are currently two ways to integrate this custom content and functionality. The first, and easiest, is through the use of Boxes, which appear on the left-side of the Facebook Page Wall tab and in the Boxes tabs. Under the new design, Boxes and the Boxes tab will be removed and any current content offered in them will disappear immediately upon the new Pages launch.

For example, Michael Jackson and Red Bull’s Facebook Pages below have Boxes tabs with a series of promotions and custom content boxes that will go away in the new design.

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