Facebook Changes for Pages: TIMELINE

I spent most of my day yesterday watching the livestream feed from the Facebook Marketing Conference in New York City.  Facebook has once again made some major announcements about changes that will affect business marketing on their platform.

So what was the announcement?  Well, beginning March 30th all Facebook business pages will revert to the new “Timeline” view that you may or may not have heard about.  To see some real-world examples of what this will look like for your business, take a minute and see some large brands who have already activated this new look:

Red Bull
American Express

Along with this change, you can expect the following differences in how you’re able to market you business on Facebook.

Cover Photo:
Timeline now gives you the opportunity to display your brand visually in a 851×315 pixel image.  The big theme of yesterday’s conference was about how marketing has shifted from “advertising” to “story telling” so this photo image should be some creative representation of the story behind your products & services.  Note that the “profile photo” (inset with the Cover Photo) can and probably should remain your logo or product photo.

Some of the restrictions that Facebook has instituted for these cover photos include:

1) May not reference any calls to action to Facebook features such as “Like This Page” or discounts/promotional offers (i.e. “Purchase our product at 40% off”)

2) May not include your web address or references to “Visit Our Website”

About Section:
This is staying very similar to what it used to be.  It will be important however to think about a very short and concise description of your business that will display in the small space visibile on the page.  This can include your web address link.

Page Apps:
Page apps or “tabs” are not going away.  However, where they display and how they function is changing quite a lot.  For starters, their are only 4 boxes that will display without using a drop down menu to see more.  One of these will always be your “photos” tab and this can’t be changed.  So… you’ll have the opportunity to select which other 3 to display just below your cover photo and the rest will live in the drop menu.  The biggest changes here include:

1) You will no longer be able to define a specific landing page for your business on Facebook.  The default landing will always be your Wall.  This may mean that your promotions, contests, games and sign-up pages could receive less engagement from users without creative ways of driving attention to them.  No longer will visitors be required to see these custom pages before moving over to your Wall.

2) While the option of using a “Like-Gate” (i.e. certain information or offers only appear after “liking” your page) will still work, they will not be as powerful as before.  Since users will not be required to “like” your page on first visit, the concept of a “Like-Gate” takes less priority.

A new customer service channel has been created and called “Messages.”  Now your customers will have the option to quickly and easily direct message you through your Facebook page.  This opens your business to an entirely new line of communication with fans.  As the business owner you will have the option to respond to users that have contacted you but cannot proactively send messages to users.

Highlights Feed:
Similar to what you’re already used to, when users visit your fan page they see a mix of your posts along with other users’ posts.  The new “highlights” feature allows you to extend certain posts that you deem important across the entire width of the page.  Along with this, there will be a entirely new line of controls that you can set to determine which types of posts appear in your Timeline and what users can post and/or see.

Pinned Posts:
You will now have the ability to pin a selected post to the top right of your page for up to one week.  This can come in handy for messages or announcements you really want to draw attention to.  I’m thinking these could be contest announcements, discount offers or anything important about your business you want users to know that week.

Friend Activity:
In the top-right section of your page’s Timeline will now appear a feed of the user’s friends who also like your page and their activity with your brand.  This can be incredibly powerful in providing what we call “social proof.”  A user who sees their friends joining your page are more likely to also follow your brand.  You will have little control over this section other than delete or hide negative user posts on your Wall when they first appear.

Since the new Timeline view is set up to date back to the inception of your business (this could be long before Facebook ever existed) you will have the ability to go back in time and create milestones.  These can include things like when your business first opened, a significant new product launch, new acquisitions and more.  You have the option to include photos here as well to keep it looking attractive.

Admin Panel:
Your page statistics and user activity is now quickly available to you without linking to a separate Insights page.  This is where you’ll be able to see notifications of recent activity on your page including posts, recent messages and new “likes.”  This will essentially become the Command Center for your page.

“Reach Generator” and “Premium on Facebook”
Executives from Facebook announced yesterday two new products that will accompany the new Timeline.  These are essentially new paid advertising methods that will roll out later this month.  From what I gathered, here’s how these will work:

1) Reach Generator:  Similar to the current ‘sponsored stories’ option we have now, Reach Generator will display your page posts in the top-right section of your fan’s News Feed.  It’s like reaching into their personal lives with your business message and should be effective at getting your messages seen.

2) Premium on Facebook:  The recent complaint is that Facebook’s algorithm is preventing most of your business posts from appearing in your fan’s News Feed.  This will likely NOT change in the future.  However, for a fee you will have the option to buy placement on your fan’s News Feed through “Premium on Facebook.”  Executives didn’t go into too much detail with how this works so I’m a little fuzzy on it myself at this time.

In summary, here’s a checklist of the most important things to do with your Timeline

  • Choose an eye-catching Cover Photo
  • Provide a short business description to appear on your page
  • Feature apps that are your most important in the top area. The rest can go in the drop down.
  • Use the “Pin” function to drive traffic to your most important posts
  • Add to “Milestones” to highlight historical dates in your business history
  • Plan to either hide or delete embarrassing and out of date posts. Go through your entire Timeline to do so.
About David Wittlinger

Gummy Bear addict. Web designer. Copywriter. Social Media Strategist.