Facebook Pages – Everything is Changing!

Since the changes announced towards the end of 2011, Facebook users have largely come to terms with the differences to their personal profiles enabled by the rollout of the ‘Timeline’.  Whilst inevitably change creates a degree of moaning and disappointment amongst some, the overall response to the new look has been positive – Timeline offers a more stylish and user-controlled ‘digital scrapbook’ of one’s life, in which you can share as much or as little as you like, and there are some brilliant profiles emerging.

Now in March 2012 a more abrupt change it seems is coming, with the rollout of Timeline-style changes for Facebook Pages.  In many ways this change is more serious, because Pages represent brands and organisations, managing and curating this change successfully and professionally is important.  But in the same way as it did for Profiles, the changes enable you to create a richer and more interesting visual experience for your visitors than previously, even if there are other less positive changes from a marketing point of view.

Let’s look at the visual changes first, as with Profiles you can now upload a cover photo to represent and head your Page.  This needs to be at least 399 pixels wide (max 851 x 315 px), and you can reposition for best effect.  Facebook has some specific guidance on appropriate use of cover pages, you should use it to represent your Page but it must NOT contain:

  • Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
  • Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”
  • Anything false, deceptive or misleading
  • Anything infringing third parties’ intellectual property or copyright
  • Any encouragement or incentive to people to upload your cover image to their own personal timelines

Your profile picture is still there, in a little box on the left, and just as before that represents your Page on other parts of the site such as newsfeeds.  It’s OK to use a logo and name, and the image must be square and at least 180px if you don’t want it stretched.  The ‘About’ section for your page is also now more prominent, so make sure that is filled out with a great relevant text-bite that sums up your offering neatly.

As with Profiles, your photos, likes and apps are now next on the page, above the fold, and just below the cover photo.  After the default leading Photos app you can change the order of your maximum 12 apps to show the most important ones first – choose these well because the likelihood is that those not in the top three visible row will receive very little attention.

Indeed the big disadvantage for marketers is that you can no longer set a default landing tab for non-fans to see when they first arrive at your page.  Your old apps will work just fine – but people will have to find them.  It is going to be hard to get as much engagement with custom apps such as contests, promotions, coupons etc as previously… and ‘Like’ gates, whilst still functional, are going to be a heck of a lot less effective and useful.

Once you have played around with your apps to your best advantage under the new rules, you need to review and manage your content, because content is what timeline is really all about after all  If you tackle this during March 2012 you have time in hand to experiment before you publish your new-style Page, when the new structure will roll out for every Page on the site regardless.

If you have a lot of content this could take time to sort out, but it gives you far greater control overall.  You can pin your favourite or most positive stories to the top of your page using the pencil icon, or you can ‘star’ it to make it full width, great for photos etc.  There is also a new admin panel making it easy to manage page Insights and review history and activity, as well as messages (see below).

As with your personal timeline you can add in earlier milestones, and use your Page timeline to tell the story of your brand’s history – founding, events, Facebook is all about stories now, so you can use this to tell yours, and remember the big difference with timeline is that you can go back to the beginning, before the Page was created, tell the story as far back as you like.  Milestones appear full-width on your timeline so make them worth a good shout!

The final important change for brand management is that the default communications channel is now a private message direct to the Page admins.  Of course people can and still will post to your wall, but in terms of managing customer service problems or individual user issues many things are now more easily and discreetly cleared up, away from the public eye. Notifications of messages will show up in your admin panel, for easy management. This is a valuable and accessible channel for brand engagement – compare being free of charge to the costs of something like Livechat – but you will need to respond promptly to maintain your customer service reputation and persuade your users that this is an effective way to reach you.  Or of course you can outsource this monitoring to a social media management company such as Casslar Consulting SL.

Please contact us if you require any assistance with making the most of the opportunities and challenges presented by Facebook timeline for Pages, we’d be delighted to discuss the options and help you get the most out of what’s on offer for your brand.

 

This post was originally published at http://casslar.com/facebook-timeline-for-pages/

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