When I logged into Facebook this morning I was confronted with a notice that the Business Pages would automatically be converted to the Timeline format as of March 30th. This is very unlike Facebook to give notice to business owners or users about impending changes, but it shows that they understand that businesses need to prepare for this change, which is both aesthetic and functional in nature.
The other good news in this is that you can activate your Timeline right now, and start building a really cool page. You can even start building it in preview mode before hitting the switch to change it over.
I’ve just spent a few minutes playing around, and I really like the changes. I’m sure there are a few subtleties that I haven’t hit on yet, but here some of the more important things that you need to know.
1. The cover photo/profile photo interface – like the Timeline for profiles, you can have your standard profile image, along with a larger cover photo. These can be changed regularly, and can provide a nice graphic juxtaposition. I would suggest using your logo or something identifiable as the main profile picture, because this is what will be seen alongside your posts on other walls or in the newsfeed. Then choose some nice graphics for the cover photo, i.e. staff photo, product shots, etc. One note: you are not permitted to use the cover photo to feature a deal or coupon. Those must still be done on third-party apps on tabs.
2. The Timeline – You can now enter the entire history of your company if you so choose, going back as far as you want, pre-Facebook. Include photos, articles, and anything you can think of that highlights the heritage of who you are.
3. How users see your page – This is a huge change, not just aesthetically. Users will initially only see posts or interactions on the page from their friends, alongside posts from the page. This means they won’t see all of the conversations from others. There is an upside and downside to this. The downside is that unless users choose to click on “Recent posts by others”, they won’t see the entire conversation that is going on, which is often what creates more conversation and engagement. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out. The upside of this is that it helps businesses who might be getting bad press or negative comments. Those comments won’t be as evident to others who just show up. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore them and choose not to address them.
4. Blog posts and other apps – Rather than posting things directly to the page, if you use a third party app like networked blogs, right now it appears as though they will reside only at the top in blocks related to those apps. As a result, I had to manually post my blog to my actual timeline this morning. I’m sure there is a workaround, but haven’t discovered it as of yet. Any suggestions?
5. Highlighted posts – This is a nice new feature. If you have something you want to be “sticky” and stay at the top, such as a new feature, or a special post or blog, you can “pin it” to stay at the top, by clicking on the pencil in the upper right hand corner of the post and click on “pin to top”. That post will then get a little banner icon and will stay at the top until you pin something else. For me, I can pin my daily blog post and make sure more people see it, rather than having it buried by other comments.
Also, if you like a particular post from a user, you can use the individual drop down menu to highlight it more prominently on your page, and showcase some good content and comments.
6. Landing tabs/pages – As of now, the Timeline will always be the landing page for all users. This is huge since a lot of companies use third party landing pages as a welcome page or to highlight a contest. This appears to have disappeared. What you can do is use points 4 and 5 together and highlight a particular tab at the top of your page. I can’t imagine page owners will be happy about this, but you have a month to adjust and make the changes before the Timeline becomes active, so you’ll need to make some adjustments.
7. Admin panel changes – The new admin panel is more user friendly and appears at the top. You can see new interactions and new fans much more easily.
8. Messaging – This has been discussed for some time, but now individual users have a way to send private messages to pages. This opens up new means of communication that is more personalized. And when an individual sends you (the business) a message, you will have the ability to respond privately. Previously pages were not able to interact with users in this way. The beauty of this is that the private interaction must be initiated by the user, thus preventing spammy interactions.
9. Feedback on pages to Facebook – There is a new mechanism for both users and page owners to give feedback about pages and problems to Facebook. I assume this can be used to report violations of page use as well, however no clue as to how Facebook will respond to these, if at all, and how timely. We’ll just have to try it and see.
10. Protect your page – There is a new “protect your page” option which is a deeper form of verification to make sure that you are the owner of the page, and presumably present others from taking control. Not fully sure why this is necessary at this point, but I would suggest all business owners follow through on this multi-step verification process.
Those are the major changes as I see them now, but I’ll continue to dig a bit more. If you need more information you can visit Customizing How Your Page Looks in the Facebook Help Center. You can also download their handy PDF that highlights some of the elements that are available to you.
- Small Business Tip Tuesday: 9 Ways to Prepare for Facebook’s Timeline for Business Pages (inklingmedia.net)
- Facebook Opens Timeline To All Biz Pages, Mandatory After 30 Days Of Curation (techcrunch.com)
- This Tool Perfectly Crops Your Cover Photo for Facebook Timeline (mashable.com)
- Four Ideas for Your Business Facebook Page (spinsucks.com)
- Some Google Changes and Google Plus Tips (waxingunlyrical.com)