Timeline for Brand Pages: How the New Timeline Will Impact Your Facebook Branding
Facebook is growing up…and fast. If you haven’t figured out by now to survive on social media you need to be clear about two things: your audience and your strategy. This becomes even more important with the Facebook announcement and of its preview of Timeline for branding pages which is scheduled to officially launch at the end of March.
While this new format mirrors that of the profile Timeline, there are some major changes that will impact branding. These new changes may be worrisome to some businesses, but they offer significant advantages to organizations who want to brand themselves using the new (and in my opinion better) Timeline format.
The biggest change with the Timeline for pages is that admins now have more control over what content is showcased (by using Pin This Post Option under Pencil Icon on each post), making you more in charge of what you really want visitors and fans to see. The new Timeline is now an opportunity for businesses to use Facebook as a true portal for communication with their audience and to showcase what makes them so special.
While Facebook is designed to engage in discussions, sharing, etc. it’s important to realize that Facebook is a marketing tool, not a destination. What this means is that while there are more options available for branding and marketing, it also means that companies need to be strategic about how they will use the Timeline for building a following and creating dialogue rather than making Facebook a replacement to a standard website (and web presence.)
Take a Quick Tour
If you want to get a quick overview of the Timeline (and understand the basics about “how to” use the new Timeline and set it up), start here. If you’ve been using the Timeline in your Facebook profile, much of it is review so you can skip the tour.
The High Points
If you want to know how the new Timeline will impact businesses at a glance, here are the highlights:
- A much bigger and prominent area to advertise deals for fans versus the current set up of pushing all the deal tabs to the bottom left of the page. While fan deal tabs already becomes the most or 2nd most popular area of a fan page, this shift should produce even higher click through rates (and logically more printing and redeeming of deals).
- There’s a much larger area for app functionality and awesome graphics. This will help showcase products or services and provides more space within the app to create appealing calls to action for fans to actually print off and use a deal.
- The cover photo provides the opportunity to create an even more positive image in the fan’s mind before we ask them to do anything.
- Opportunity for more traffic. By having deals tabs and the new Facebook OFFERS functionality, for example, there is a better opportunity to increase traffic and getting more LIKES than the old format.
- Better Info page. The layout of the new info page allows for a lot more useful information for admins to include. No longer are we as constrained by the “More Info…” cutoff and the layout is much easier to read.
- More prominent Friend interaction. Interactions of a fan’s friends are now highlighted at the top of the page; immediate social proof of a page’s popularity.
- More powerful Admin Panel. The admin panel is far easier to interact with and see critical insights on a page immediately. In addition, it supports tracking messages to the page and encourages new levels of interaction.
- Integration beyond Facebook. With the ability to add information into the Timeline, businesses can now include major events and milestones without having to use a clunky post.
- Default landing tabs (including reveals or “LIKEgates”) are now gone. Instead there are more prominent, button-like apps below the image which makes the page feel more like a website. (This is clearly a “plus”!)
- No calls to action or contact information allowed in the cover image. While this might generate some push-back, it ultimately may lead to better use of apps and more focus on engagement rather than peddling sales with “buy now” options.
- The photo strip is now gone entirely. Replacing it is a cleaner and more simplistic “navigation” structure below the cover image.
- Fewer visible tabs. The number icons that replace tabs are limited based upon the information in the “About” section, the highest seems to be only 4 (1 of which you cannot reorder). The rest are hidden under a down arrow to the right.
- Wall Threads gone. No longer can your visitor simply scan down a single column to view the latest post.
The New Rules of Cover Designs
With the new roll out of the Timeline, the option for a larger profile image is now removed. It is now replaced with a much larger, more prominent (and better) masthead.
While this new design clearly allows companies to showcase compelling images, there are some strict guidelines about what can and can’t be included in images. The highlights:
- No promotional content. This means that discounts (e.g. take 20% off) or coupons can’t be included in your cover image.1)
- No calls to action. No longer can you ask someone to “like” your page (or share, comment, etc.) in your cover image. You also can’t suggest to “buy now” or “subscribe” or other types of calls to action.
- No contact information or alternate methods to interface with you. You can’t include any information about your phone number, email or street address, website, etc. This information is now to be exclusively limited to the “about” area within your Facebook page details. 3)
- No flexibility in your cover image size. Cover image formats are limited to jpg/jpeg or png and should have the ideal dimensions of 851 x 315. Images which do not match these dimensions will be scaled to fit within these specifications.
The Cover Photo: What You Need to Know
Consider Usability: The Cover Image is not Clickable
With the rules and restrictions (see above) imposed by Facebook, there are many limitations on the cover design. However, from a purely usability standard, avoid using images that look like clickable buttons because this will confuse and frustrate your fans. Keep in mind that there is no replacement for simplicity and elegance.
Treat the Cover Photo Like a Billboard
Cover photos should be creative, engaging and interesting. Make the design memorable and intriguing– something that will get people to talk about it. You can also change it to keep it fresh and show you are updating periodically.
Profile Image Overlays On the Cover Photo
Just as with Facebook profiles, the profile image will overlap the cover image. Make sure that you allow the space for your profile image in your design, as well as build it in to your design to make it look seamless. **Remember, this image will also be the image associated with all your posts as the old thumbnail was before.
Using the Timeline to Tell Your Story
If you want to see an excellent example about how you can use a Timeline to showcase your company story, this video shows how Apple enthusiasts created a Timeline about the life of Steve Jobs. Notice how pictures paint an overall history. http://www.allfacebook.com/facebook-steve-jobs-2012-02
Now, translate this concept to your company. What’s your story? What do you want people to know about you to build your credibility, history and establish trust?
Can you see the potential here?
- Tell your company history
- Show how your non-profit started, what activities you’ve worked on over the years, showcase events and fundraisers, etc.
- Highlight the “high points” that would most interest your audience when they are trying to understand who you are, what you do and where you are going!
- Highlight with videos or photos testimonials about your product or service.
One of the great features about the Facebook Timeline is the ability to pin posts. You can only pin one post at a time. This pinned post will stay at the top of the Timeline for approximately 7 days. Pinned posts are a great way to highlight something important, such as an upcoming policy change, a hot topic, etc. or showcase a video, upcoming event, an ebook (or other promotional link where you want people to sign up, etc.) or a special promotion so it will sit at the top of your wall and be seen. You can’t get better than that kind of real estate for advertising and promotion!
Using the star icon next to a post will allow you to expand a post to create a milestone in your Timeline. Milestone posts will display at 843 by 403 pixels wide, so again this is real estate in your page that naturally lends itself to promotional items you want to highlight in your Timeline such as a large banner. (Remember that like the cover image, these milestone posts do not have “clickable” images. You’ll still need to include a link to a landing or sales page, etc.)
Milestones are a great way to highlight a major moment in your Timeline such as introducing a new product, being quoted in a major publication, etc.
As with other posts, as you add more content into your Timeline, expect that these milestones will not be “timeless.” You’ll still need to update with new milestones, which is one way that Facebook can ensure that the user experience always includes fresh content, discussions and engagement!
Optimizing Your About Section
With the old Facebook layout, pages displayed limited information about the page itself. Now the new Timeline allows you to include a 1-2 sentence description. To take full advantage of this space, be sure to include a hyperlink to your website.
Views and Apps
In the old layout, tabs (or navigation options within pages to special apps such as stores or discussions) appeared below the profile image on the left side. The new Timeline layout has positioned these tabs to display horizontally across the top, just below the cover image.
What’s improved is that you can now upload your own custom image to your app which calls attention to a specific part of your Facebook page, such as highlighting a Facebook store, discussion group, etc. The default view will display up to 4 apps, the first will always be used for photos. You can add up to 12 apps (which can be arranged in any order you want), however only the first three will be displayed below the cover image, so you should make sure that these are your most important ones.
This improved appearance greatly helps visitors to navigate in your Facebook page and find the information they need quickly such as “deals” or “discussions” if you use a discussion app for customer service (for example.)
A cool trick I discovered was that if you create a photo album you can also click and drag to re-arrange the order of your albums. What’s great about this is that Facebook will pull the images it will rotate in the “photos” box from ONLY the first album. It’s a great way to really get a call to action, encourage someone to LIKE the page, etc.
One of the great improvements with the new Timeline which can help build credibility and trust is the addition of friend activity to pages. With the friend activity, friends can see what interaction other friends have had with a specific page/brand. Not only does this help visitors to feel more connected, but leveraging super fans here will help “sell” your product or service when friends of super fans visit your page.
Visitors can now “instant message” you with private messages. This chat feature has been long overdue and will provide a great way for visitors to connect with you and get answers to questions they have right away, and without the need for the entire world to see their message to you.
Excellent Examples of Pages Using the New Timeline Features
- Lexus — http://www.facebook.com/lexus
- Harley-Davidson – http://www.facebook.com/harley-davidson
- Red Bull – http://www.facebook.com/redbull
- Coke – http://www.facebook.com/cocacola
- Starbucks – http://www.facebook.com/Starbucks
- Macys — http://www.facebook.com/Macys
- American Express — http://www.facebook.com/americanexpress
- Cover Girl — http://www.facebook.com/covergirl
- Tide — https://www.facebook.com/Tide
- Southwest Airlines — http://www.facebook.com/Southwest
The New (and Super Improved) Admin Panel
I’m absolutely in love with the admin panel. Instead of having to navigate to a thousand different places to view notifications, messages, analytics, etc. everything is consolidated in one spot. This more simplified format makes your conversations and interactions that much more meaningful!
Contributors to this article…
In an effort to get this article about the Facebook timeline for pages out to subscribers as quickly as possible it hasn’t been proofread. Many apologies! We’ll eventually get to that later. – The CaptureHits Team
Originally posted 2012-03-01 02:37:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter