Okay, businesses and brands! Last week, Facebook rolled out the Timeline format to brand Pages. Organizations have the month of March to organize their Pages before Facebook applies Timeline to all Pages on March 30th, 2012. Plenty of resources on the Internet provide details on modifying and optimizing your Page. But if you’re looking for a simple list of major changes, then you’ve come to the right place.
Here are the eight major features in Facebook Timeline for brand Pages:
1. Cover photo: showcase your business with a nice and large cover photo. Create and re-size your cover photo so that it fits Facebook’s dimensions: 850 pixels by 315 pixels. If it isn’t this exact size, Facebook will auto-fit your image and the result is often distorted.
There are some restrictions on cover photos. Facebook does not allow images that include promotions, coupons, or advertisements. Read Facebook’s rules here.
Here’s an example timeline cover photo I created for RingCentral, the company I work for:
2. Admin Panel displayed prominently at top of page: whether or not you are logged in as your Page, you will see the Admin panel displayed across a generous area at the top. There is a Hide button and an Admin Panel button, so you can toggle between views. The Admin Panel includes a Notifications window showing recent Page interactions such as posts by others, comments, and likes. Other windows include recent Page Likes, Insights on your posts over the recent three weeks, and private messages sent directly from (only) people on Facebook.
3. Private message exchanges: Pages can now receive a direct message from people on Facebook. This will be a welcome feature for individuals who want private communications with a business or brand. Companies who are service-oriented can leverage this channel to deliver customer support, which often involves the exchange of customer account information. You can disable the Message option through Edit Page >> Manage Permissions. Note that Pages cannot initiate or send direct messages to an individual or another brand’s Page.
4. Left-navigation apps and tabs re-located to beneath cover photo: the apps and tabs that once appeared on the left-hand navigation below the profile picture have now been moved to the top of the page beneath the cover photo. You may only display four tabs, each of which can be represented by an image and text of your choice. The dimensions for the tab image is 111 pixels by 74 pixels.
5. Default landing pages are gone: previously, you could create a default landing page to present first-time fans with a customized message. Now, the default landing page is simply your brand’s Timeline. Note, however, that you can still send people to your apps and tabs through their respective links.
6. Highlight or prioritize specific posts: if you want to feature a specific post, you now have two options: you can click on the star to highlight the post and enlarge it across both columns OR you can surface the post via the “Pin To Top” feature so it appears first in your timeline. To do this, hover over the upper right corner of the post. Note that you can Pin To Top only one post at a time, and that post cannot be simultaneously highlighted. You can, however, highlight as many posts as you desire.
7. Posts from others now appear as a list in one [boxed] section of Timeline. You can modify who is allowed to post to your page through Edit Page >> Manage Permissions. But if you permit user content and you receive a really nice post, you can select the Highlight setting and expand it across two columns.
8. You can see other brand Pages who have Liked your page. The Like box in the Admin Panel displays both individuals and brands who have joined your community (previously, you couldn’t see Pages who have Liked you). This opens up opportunities for partnership and B2B marketing. Get involved in your eco-system — engage with other businesses relevant to your community and business.
Overall, I think the Timeline format for Pages is a nice change — it’s far more visually appealing . It’s also much easier to manage from an admin perspective, with all the most important stats available at-a-glance. If you haven’t converted your Page over to Timeline yet, don’t be daunted. As with many things social media, just dive in and make modifications in real-time. It’s the best way to see what works and what doesn’t.