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?
- Facebook To Release Timeline For Brands Later This Month (v3im.com)
- Yes, Facebook May Debut Timeline For Brand Pages 2/29, More Sources Say (allfacebook.com)
- Will Facebook Announce Timeline for Pages This Month? (sproutsocial.com)
- Four Ideas for Your Business Facebook Page (spinsucks.com)
- Facebook Wants More Social Sharing, Rolls Out Apps (v3im.com)