You may have seen the recent changes on Facebook with the introduction of Timeline, a feature that changed the layout of personal pages to show in chronological order a user’s activities since joining the social network. While the Timeline feature was originally an option for members, Facebook has since decided to roll out the new layout across all profiles, including business pages, taking effect 30th March 2012.
You can prepare your business page for the site-wide rollout by getting your Facebook page ready – see a preview of your page now by clicking the ‘Preview’ link that appears at the top of page. While it may seem like a lot of work to maintain, Facebook Timeline gives your business the opportunity to improve the customer service experience and boost interactivity between your brand and audience through enhanced visual communication and personal interaction.
See what you can do to prepare for Timeline below.
So what’s changing?
No More Facebook Custom Tab Landing Pages
The biggest change to take affect with Timeline is the removal of customised landing pages. While these pages will still exist on the new layout, you won’t be able to direct users to that landing page as an entry point; instead all visitors will be directed to your Wall. This is a fairly substantial change and will have a strong effect on promotional apps and Facebook ads.
New Cover Photo
A notable new feature of the timeline is the cover photo that’s featured prominently at the top of your page. This is a great opportunity for branding and specials and acts as a Billboard for your brand – see these excellent examples from Harley Davidson, Billabong and Coldplay. To give your page a Cover Photo, select “Add a Cover” from the top left of your screen and click Upload Photo.
The ‘winning’ example below for Manchester United’s Facebook cover image is an excellent example of how you can leverage this space for promotion. The recommended image size is 851 x 315 pixels, so make sure whatever image you select is a minimum of 851px wide otherwise it will appear blurred and pixelated. Your profile photo is still located at the top of the page, however in a smaller size. This photo is also placed next to any status updates, comments and other activity that you conduct on Facebook, so using your logo is best (at 180 x 180px). To edit this, hover over your current profile picture and select ‘Edit Profile Picture’.
Your company’s About information is now more obvious, situated at the top of the page. Make sure this is up to date and not just a big paragraph of useless information – keep it short and sweet with the most important details about you.
The ability to fill in your history is also a great way to engage fans and provide a visual and interesting account of the company’s background. An example of a company that’s doing this really well is Coca Cola – click on their timeline history to read some interesting facts about the origin of the drink!
Pin Important Posts
You can now feature more important content and posts by ‘pinning’ them to the top of your page. This pin lasts up to 7 days or until you remove it, and is a great way to promote something to your customers and fans. You can change dates of past statuses, and make some posts larger than the rest. If you include an image, the post stretches across the entire screen so make sure it’s larger than 851px wide. To make a post larger, click the ‘star’ icon to feature it.
Add Important Company Milestones
With the addition of milestones, you can now feature past dates that have been important to your business’ success. These can include store openings, new product launches, past achievements or events, company mergers, awards or anniversaries. Back track your achievements over the past few years and include them to give your fans a greater insight into your business, build trust and foster transparency. Just click on the ‘line’ that runs down the centre of your page to add.
Activity Log & Insights
The new admin panel allows you to manage your posts (including the hiding, revealing or featuring of posts), as well as to monitor the viewership and shares of the page through the content that you’ve posted or others have posted about you. In one area you will see private messages from fans, notifications of new likes and comments, and the Insights Analytics tool which allows you to see who’s talking about your brand using ‘Talking About This’ and ‘Reach’.
Friend Activity Tracked
Now when a user visits your page, they can see their friend’s activity with your brand, including mentions from past status updates and comments. This can be both a positive and negative thing, because while it might show your popularity, it can also bring up negative comments from a past bad experience or irrelevant post.
This is where the admin panel becomes useful as you can choose to hide these types of comments when they arise, it just means that your page needs to be monitored closely and regularly. The example here shows when I visit the Metallica Facebook page, any friends of mine that also like Metallica appear at the top of page, and I can see a past status update from another friend who used a Metallica keyword.
What do these changes mean for social media marketing strategies?
The move away from landing pages is designed to encourage the focus on news stories and public communication between a brand and its fans. The new format increases the need to monitor Facebook comments and statuses about your brand more regularly as they are now a very prominent feature. The open and public nature of communication also allows for better customer experience while also allowing for private interaction through messages within the admin dashboard.
Experiment with your Facebook page now before the site-wide change on the 30th of March – you’ll get the advantage above competitors as you can tweak your design and updates to get them right before then. Go to Facebook.com now to get started! If you’ve found any other features or potential issues, feel free to post your comments below.