Facebook rolled out Timeline for brands on February 29, allowing businesses to take advantage of the same format that personal profiles have been able to adopt for several months now. The Timeline offers exciting new features and more opportunities for your brand to connect with customers. All brands must change over to Timeline by March 30, so now is the time to experiment with different options for your brand's Timeline.
Here's what you need to know:
Cover photos are by far the most visible change for Timeline, and they allow brands to make a strong statement. As tempting as it may be, this is not a space for marketing specific products, providing purchase information, encouraging Likes or Shares, or sharing the contact information for your business. Facebook has rules that specifically prohibit these activities, and brands can be suspended from Facebook for violating these regulations.
Instead, use the 851 x 315 pixel cover photo as a creative visual expression of your business, culture, products, or services. This can be a challenge for small businesses, which may not have the resources to create a compelling graphic design for this space. If this is the case, it is wise to work with a designer to create a design that speaks to your brand. No one wants an empty space where the cover photo is supposed to be, which is what will happen to brands who fail to create a design.
Brands can use the Timeline to highlight important milestones in the past, adding interesting images of and text about an event that happened on a specific date. Ford's Timeline goes back to 1908, when the first Model A was sold. If your brand has a long or interesting history, or if you'd simply like to highlight product launches or special events, add milestones to get people going back into your Timeline. A sidebar allows fans to go back to specific years without having to scroll down.
Unlike before, fans can now contact brands directly through private messaging. Although brands can not initiate the conversation, this opens up an opportunity for brands to keep customer service issues, complaints, negative reviews and more off the Timeline and go more in depth with the discussions in a private manner.
Page administrators can now pin posts to the top of the page, where it is featured for up to seven days. It is also possible to star content, which draws attention to it on the page by featuring it in a double-wide layout. This is perfect for events or announcements that you don't want pushed down in the timeline.
With the new format, Facebook has reduced the prominence of tabs. Tabs are now featured below the cover photo, with four modules that are displayed and a drop-down menu that shows any other tabs. However, brands can no longer set these tabs as a default landing page. This means a brand will need to point people to these tabs with its website, Facebook ads, emails, and posts on the Timeline. Each tab also requires an image that will displayed in the module.
With less than a month to prepare for these changes, brands must start tackling how to adapt. Timeline is an important opportunity for brands to better engage fans, and also provides an opportunity for brands who haven't invested much time or energy into a Facebook page to start fresh.