I started writing my weekly blog post last week, as I'm doing now, and stumbled upon the fact that Facebook launched their Timeline for Brands that day. I was promoting the fact that I've now been blogging for 5 years and following my yearly tradition, I was planning to write about the Dove brand since they were featured in my very first blog post. I hopped on over to Dove's Facebook page and to my surprise discovered that they had updated to the new Timeline format. I then wrote about what I found there not fully realizing what it all meant yet.
As the day went on, I started to receive many emails and newsletters that all were about the Facebook Timeline introduction. I tried to read as much as I could, as quickly as I could, to understand what all this means to brands and specifically to the current sweepstakes and contest tabs I had running for clients. Here's a quick summary of the top changes you need to know. Since I was invited by GM last week to test drive a new Chevy Volt at the Rochester Auto Show, I decided to use their new page as an example.
Now if you visit your Facebook page you'll see a message from Facebook at the top and a link to preview what your page would look like in Timeline. So Facebook has already started the process for us. Everyone has till March 30 to further create their Timeline and at that time it will be published whether you are ready or not. Everyone can publish it sooner however. and many I see already have.
The biggest change is that you now have the expanded space at the top of the page for a large cover photo (851 x 315 pixels). You can really get creative with this space and use it to enhance your brand, however it also comes with a few restrictions. Facebook states: “Covers may not display calls to action or references to Facebook features such as “Like this Page”, purchase or pricing info such as “40% off” or “Download at our website”, or contact information such as web address.”
The tab pages are also larger with Timeline. Currently they are 520 pixels wide and with Timeline they will expand to 810 pixels. All the 520 pixels tabs will still work once you switch over to Timeline and will look centered in the middle of the 810-pixel layout without any adjustments. You can then update an existing tab to a the larger size at any time. The biggest disadvantage now is that we can no longer have specific default landing pages for non-fans. For instance a Like Us to enter a sweepstakes or contest tab or a Welcome tab that invites non-fans to become fans will not work once you convert to Timeline.
Without default landing tabs, pages will now need to communicate in a different way to encourage non-fans to Like the page and become a fan. One option is to use the smaller photo tiles that are now located on the right side of the page below the cover photo. Facebook is referring to these as the application tab icons. There are four that are automatically displayed and if you have multiple apps then the visitor will have to click a button to the far right to expose the rest.
Similar to the existing menu on a page's left hand side, the first app icon is Photos which cannot be moved from that position. There is also another app icon that will automatically appear which features the number of Likes on your page. This icon can be moved from it's default position, but it cannot be deleted. There are a total of 12 app icon spaces, however since two are permanent you really can only add up to 10 apps. These new application icons dimensions are 111 × 74 pixels and page administrators can easily upload a photo and name each icon.
Another way to raise awareness of specific apps or events that I really like is the ability to “pin” certain posts to the top of the Timeline. Similar to how us bloggers feature a post so that it remains at the top of a blog for a specified period of time, pinning a post to the top of Timeline allows you to do the same. A pinned post is distinguished by a small, orange flag. You can pin only one item at a time, and the pinned item then will stay at the top of the Timeline for up to 7 days as well as permanently within its chronological place. So you should start to plan out a calendar of what items you want to pin and for how long.
I wanted to point out another new feature which is the ability for a fan to private message a page. Once they do the brand page will have the ability to private message them back. So this could be a great way to handle issues that should remain private and not open to the public. For example if someone posts on your page a problem that they are having you could suggest that they private message you so that you can work directly with them offline to help solve their issue.
Going forward with your new Timeline page you really will need to update your page every day. People who visit your page will see an activity stream on the upper right hand side that shows the visitor their friends that are also fans of the page and any interactions between them and the page. If no friends have interacted then it displays the most recent post. Here you'll see 2 of my friends on the Chevy Volt page along with the post I wrote last week regarding the test drive I did. It's important to plan out daily content that engages users by asking questions and encouraging comments and shares so that this section doesn't look empty.
Overall, the new changes for brand page are a big plus, but of course it will take us all a while to get used to. It definitely is an exciting time to be in this business and I'm looking forward to seeing what some of these new pages will feature. Are you or your company planning to do anything differently with the new page? Please share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments below.