Small Business Tip Tuesday: 9 Ways to Prepare for Facebook’s Timeline for Business Pages

by Ken Mueller on February 21, 2012 · 43 comments

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Image by Getty Images via @daylife

I’ve been asked quite a few times at speaking engagements, and by clients, “Will Facebook be adding the Timeline for Business Pages”?. Well, if you haven’t heard, the rumors started leaking last week, and apparently the Timeline will be coming to business pages as early as the end of this month. It sounds as if they will begin rolling it out in beta with some larger brands. If you remember, it’s been nearly a year since the last major overhaul to the business pages.

When the Timeline was rolled out for personal profiles, there was an early opt-in process where you could choose whether or not you wanted, and some still haven’t chosen it, waiting for Facebook to force them. That will probably happen very soon. Now, with the impending roll-out of the business Timeline, there is no word as to whether or not we’ll be able to opt-in early.

And while many say they dislike the personal Timeline (I happen to love it!), I think that’s just the typical, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality that many of us have, just because we don’t like change. When things change, we have to adjust and learn something new.

Well, get ready for change. And while we don’t know what features the Timeline for Business Pages will have, here are a few things we can do to prepare ourselves for the inevitable:

1) Get the Timeline for your personal profile – If you haven’t opted in yet, do it now. This will give you a chance to play around and learn some of the features that are likely to cross over to the business page version. Anything you can do to shorten the learning curve will be a plus.

2) Start planning – Based on what we know about the personal timeline, we can probably guess what the overall look will be. So start thinking, “If I used my personal page as a business page, how would I set it up?”. Of course you aren’t permitted to use a personal page for your business, but take a mental walk through that process. The more creative among us might even want to storyboard a look for their Business Page.

3) Think visually – One huge difference between the Timeline and the old wall interface is the emphasis on images. Not only do you have the large cover photo at the top, but images are featured throughout. If you aren’t using images on your Business Page now, start taking pictures and uploading them. Make sure you have a compelling shot for your cover photo. The juxtaposition between the cover and your main profile picture needs to be catchy. Will you include your logo? Pictures of you and your staff? Images of your products? The beauty of Facebook is that you can play around and experiment and find something that catches the eye. Yes, we DO judge books by their covers, so think this one through carefully. And have a little fun with it.

4) Think historically – With the timeline on our personal profiles, we are no longer confined to the few years for which we’ve been on the platform. I can now post pictures from my entire life, in context, all the way back to 1962. It’s an online scrapbook. This can be a real boon to a company that has been around for some time. There is nothing to stop you from going back 100 years or more to tell the story of your business. Old photos can be pretty compelling. It gives people a way to see the entire story of your company history. And don’t feel like you have to do this all at once, because by rolling out certain portions of your history over time, you are giving people a reason to come back to your page time and time again as you reveal snapshots in time. If you have any old photos, whether they be from the 1890s or the 1990s, you might want to start scanning and digitizing them.

5) Think live media – Now would be a good time to start using video, if you aren’t already. Yes, people love photos, but compelling videos are also a great attraction. It might cost a bit to digitize some archival video and film footage, but it’s also probably worth it.

6) Content is still king – Every status update, every link, every post, is a form of content. Images are not a replacement for compelling content in terms of drawing people to your page. If you are blogging, make sure you cross post it to your page. Share links to articles that speak to the needs and interests of your customers. Become a clearinghouse for everything they need to know about your particular business or product category.

7) Expect the unexpected, and be prepared to run on the fly – We honestly don’t know everything that will be offered in this new product. Third-party apps and contests are big for some businesses. Odds are that those apps, which currently reside on custom tabs on the left hand side will end up in boxes near the top, just like on our personal profiles. If that’s the case, this opens up new opportunities for exposure. Also, many businesses use custom landing pages. I’ve never really been a fan of those, but they work for some. At this point, we don’t know if the Timeline layout will be conducive to such landing pages. Will we be allowed to have them? And if so, will it work from an aesthetic standpoint, or will it be too jarring?

8) Explore – The beauty of a beta roll-out is that you can learn from the victories and mistakes of others. Find out which brands are using the Timeline and play around with their pages. Find out how they are using it, and determine what you think will work for you.

9) Avoid hand wringing – Seriously, don’t sweat it. Don’t avoid it. It is inevitable, so go with the flow. Even if you are given the chance to delay all of this, don’t. Jump in and have fun. Once the timeline is installed across the board on profiles and pages, it will completely change the look of the whole Facebook experience. Don’t resist it. Do you want to be the last of the old-school businesses clinging to the old wall/tab interface?

Are you ready for the Timeline? How do you think you will use it on your business page?

 

 Small Business Tip Tuesday: 9 Ways to Prepare for Facebooks Timeline for Business Pages
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40 comments
DawnMentzer
DawnMentzer

@dawabbitmedia Thanks for the RT's! How was your weekend?

kmueller62
kmueller62

@marketngartisan @ebizappraisals thanks for the RTs!

avanamersfoort
avanamersfoort

@AnalyzeButter Pff wordt weer lekker omschakelen naar de Timeline voor bedrijven. Heb ik net die gewone #fanpage onder de knie :p

Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

Definitely hard to keep up with this stuff Ken! Glad you're here. Bookmarking this one right now.

Hajra
Hajra

Kind of like bringing the concept of Pinterest to Business... the power of images and capturing visual attention?

John_Trader1
John_Trader1

With the explosion of platforms like Pinterest as a testament to the power of images in marketing, companies shouldn't kick and scream about the potential changes that this new look and feel will bring. Like an old man into a hot bath, companies should ease into this and not feel they need to rush to adopt. It's also quite obvious that the timing of the rollout coincides with Facebook's pending IPO as they gear up to establish better tools that increase their relevance.

sierratierra
sierratierra

"Expect the unexpected" is fabulous advice for timelines -- or any other marketing plan on Facebook/Twitter/G+, etc!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

You already know how I feel about this. I love the idea of being able to tell your company's story through images. I saw some mock-ups of what Coke is thinking about doing and it's pretty fantastic. I understand people are stressed about it because they've spent a lot of money on customization and iFrames. But, if the rumors are true, Facebook won't touch that kind of stuff. Rather allowing brands to tell their stories in a fun and visual way.

BestRoofer
BestRoofer

It sure is not easy to keep up with all of the changes in all of the platforms! I think we need an "AP" for that.

AnalyzeButter
AnalyzeButter

@avanamersfoort Ik denk wel dat het veel mooier word. Veel visueler! #like

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@sierratierra It seems we can prepare, but never be fully prepared. We never know when something new will arrive on the scene, and certainly don't know when Facebook will make changes. Ever.

Josepf
Josepf

@kmueller62 Ken, #Philly boy here (Roxborough) now in #Montreal // will wave at you next time I'm at Shady Maple :)

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@ginidietrich The big thing is going to get businesses to understand a) the importance of their story, and b) how to tel their story. It's so foreign for so many businesses. All they worry about is the here and now, and they forget their past.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@BestRoofer No, it isn't easy. But that's why I'm here. Maybe someone can invent an App just to help you out...

DawnMentzer
DawnMentzer

@dawabbitmedia It was A-OK despite having a little bit of a cold. First one this season! Hope your Tues. was better than yesterday.

avanamersfoort
avanamersfoort

@AnalyzeButter Dat absoluut! Ben jij er nog uitgekomen met die #fanpage voor @EVC_Heemskerk? Gelijk inspringen op die nieuwe timeline dan hé

kmueller62
kmueller62

@josepf awesome, my parents grew up in NE Philly, and still have relatives in Mayfair and Fishtown

BestRoofer
BestRoofer

@KenMueller Another great post Ken. I wish that I had more time to spend on keeping up with everything. I'm still struggling to get a blog post out every week. As you know, I need all the help I can get!

avanamersfoort
avanamersfoort

@AnalyzeButter Mocht je hulp nodig hebben :p .. call me baby ;)

AnalyzeButter
AnalyzeButter

@avanamersfoort Enthousiast mee begonnen ja, tot ik mijn HTML kunsten weer eens overschatte.. Maar snap het wel denk ik! Wil alleen te veel!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@BestRoofer you can do it! Rah Rah Rah! (see, you just needed a cheerleader to spur you on!)

Trackbacks

  1. […] and start getting used to how it works.  And start reading up on the new format.  This post from Inkling Media has some great tips. Share this:FacebookPrintEmailDiggRedditStumbleUponTwitterLike this:LikeBe the […]

  2. […] Inkling Media: 9 Ways to Prepare for Facebook’s Timeline for Business Pages […]

  3. […] Small Business Tip Tuesday: 9 Ways to Prepare for Facebook’s Timeline for Business Pages (inklingmedia.net) […]

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