14 March 2012
Facebook Pages for businesses are changing to accommodate the new Facebook Timeline. The changes were first announced at the Facebook Marketing Conference in September 2011, and all business pages will fall under the new system from the end of March 2012.
The Facebook Timeline
Central to the new system is the Facebook Timeline which replaces and combines information previously included on the Facebook Wall and Profile. It displays the story of your life (in the case of individuals), or the life history of your business, in a reverse-chronologically ordered timeline.
Within the new Timeline are a number of features which allow you to configure your posts the way you want, such as Pining important stories to the top of the page, Highlighting stories, and adding Life Events or Milestones - either current or historical.
The new format of Facebook pages includes space for a large cover image which stretches across the top of the main page, like the one shown below from Ben and Jerry's.
While the new format offers businesses the potential for better branding, Facebook have introduced a number of rather surprising restrictions on what can and can't be included in the cover image. For example, they cannot include:
- Price or purchase information, such as "40% off" or "Download it at our website".
- Contact information such as a website address, email or mailing address.
- References to Facebook features or actions, such as "Like" or "Share" or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features.
- Calls to action such as "Get it now" or "Tell your friends."
Businesses should make sure they understand the guidelines fully before creating a new cover image for their Facebook Pages.
Views and Apps
Below the cover image the new format includes a Views and Apps toolbar. This toolbar replaces the old links which appeared immediately below the profile picture on the left of the page. Photos are featured automatically in the first spot and a further three tabs can be displayed on the toolbar. More tabs can be added but users have to click the arrow at the far right of the toolbar in order to see them, via an expanded drop-down menu.
Custom Pages can be displayed and accessed via the Views and Apps menu. You can also use images to create customised tabs (like web buttons) which may be useful for branding and promotional purposes. In addition, Custom Pages can now be created in a wider format of 810 pixels, although existing pages created at the old width of 520 pixels should still work OK.
Having said this, it's important for all businesses to review their Pages on a case by case basis and assess what action is required to update their Pages within the new system. Although some information will be automatically transferred to the new Timeline, virtually all businesses will need to configure the system to suit their specific needs and to optimise their new Pages.
What Else is New?
A few other features are worth a mention.
Private Messaging is now available for businesses with the ability for individuals and businesses to communicate directly without the information being made public. Industry commentators have picked up on the possibilities here for a more personalised interaction with customers and the potential for businesses to utilise the new feature as a customer service tool.
We touched briefly on Pinned posts above. Pinned posts are featured prominently at the top of your Timeline, so it's one of the first things that visitors see when they come to your Page. Posts can be pinned for 7 days at a time and provide a good opportunity for businesses to highlight their most important posts, promotions and news.
The new activity log provides a complete list of your posts and activity and lets you review and manage everything you have shared since you joined Facebook. From within the activity log you can quickly adjust the privacy of your posts and decide which posts to display on your timeline. You can also hide, delete, or highlight individual stories, as well as change the dates of stories on your timeline. It's easy to locate your stories based on the date of publication, or if you want to find a certain type of story you can filter by content type.
If you've turned on Timeline Review in your Privacy Settings, pending posts will show at the top of your activity log. You can quickly approve new content and tags from your friends by clicking the check mark, or delete them if you don't want them on your timeline.
Facebook has published an interactive video tutorial which explores the new features of Facebook Pages in some detail. Further information can be found in the following Guides:
Do you need help with your Facebook pages? Do you need social media plug-ins for your website? For more information call: 024 7655 1111 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org