Yesterday Facebook announced the next installment of its Timeline layout, Timeline for Pages. We anticipated that this change was coming to brand Pages and assumed some of the changes, but yesterday we learned exactly how Facebook Pages will change on March 30, 2012, when Timeline for Pages is rolled out to all Pages. So, what’s changing?
1. “The Wall” is now “The Timeline”
If you’re not familiar with the Timeline layout, it encourages beautiful graphics and media-rich posts. A lot of real estate is now given to brands to be able to have an attention-grabbing cover photo that spans the top of the page and larger post sizes that can display photos and videos without feeling crowded. Note that Facebook has also released a specific policy about what can be included in the cover photo creative. The cover photo may not contain any of the following:
- Price or purchase information, such as “40 percent 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.”
2. Landing Pages Disappear
Instead of directing new visitors to a beautifully designed custom landing page, visitors will be sent to the Timeline. If you want visitors to land on a particular tab within Facebook, you can link there through a Facebook ad or a post on your Page’s Timeline.
3. Add Company Milestones
Do you have a legacy brand that has a rich history? If so, you can now add events to your Page’s Timeline to help create a visual history of the company. When did your first store open? When did you launch your first product? When did you move to a bigger office? These are just some of the milestones that you can now add to your Page’s Timeline. Try adding nostalgic photos to help increase the emotional connection with fans.
4. Pinning Posts to the Top
Important or popular posts can be pinned to the top of the Timeline so that more recent content doesn’t bury important content. When you pin a post, it will stay pinned for one week before losing the top placement. If you are promoting a contest or want to drive traffic to a specific application or tab, this may be the best way to make sure that your content is seen.
5. Tabs Are Less Visible
Tabs and custom applications that live on those tabs are now moved to the top of the Page rather than the left column. With the new layout, tabs are allowed a larger thumbnail, but because the thumbnails take up more space, only two custom tabs can be shown “above the fold.” In order to view the rest of the tabs, a user must click on a dropdown button. This extra step may become familiar in time, but it will always be important to make sure that you feature the two most important tabs “above the fold.”
6. Existing Tabs and Applications Will Immediate Require Attention
Even though tabs will lose some visibility, it will still be important to still have tabs on your Page. When Timeline for Pages goes live, tab visitors will see a larger tab page with more pixels available for the tab creative. This is great news because there will be more creative real estate, but unless brands take action now and revise existing tab creative, the tab creative will be auto-adjusted in the new layout. Facebook will automatically center the creative, leaving a noticeable amount of white space surrounding the tab’s content.
7. Send Private Messages to Fans
For brands that use Facebook as a customer service tool, this development is great news. Fans now have the opportunity to send the brand a private message through Facebook’s messaging platform. These private messages work in the same way as personal Facebook messages and allow brands and fans to discretely communicate with each other without the conversation appearing on the Page’s Timeline.
8. New Admin Panel
The new admin panel – visible only to Page admins – will be displayed at the top of the Page’s Timeline and provide quick and easy access for admins to view Insights, respond to fans’ private messages, edit the Page information and edit Timeline posts.
9. Facebook Offers
Facebook is now rolling out Facebook Offers. This is a free product that will be available to all Pages and allow you to create a coupon for your Facebook fans. The coupons are simple and include an area for a thumbnail image and the details of the offer. With just one click, fans can have the coupon sent to their email and/or mobile phone; fans don’t have to grant permissions or go through any extra steps. Simply by clicking “Get Offer,” fans will instantly receive the coupon.
10. Facebook Premium
Facebook’s internal research (and common sense) has shown that more Facebook users engage with stories, rather than ads. A new Facebook advertising product titled “Facebook Premium” will take a story that is published to your Page’s Timeline and display the story directly in a user’s News Feed (even non-fans). Additionally, these ads will be shown in the News Feeds of mobile devices as well as on the logout page when someone logs out of Facebook. Now, rather than clicking on an ad, users can engage with a story directly. This engagement will generate additional stories that will extend the reach of the ad unit.
11. Facebook Reach Generator
Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm prevents Page content from reaching all of a Page’s fans and only shows a Page’s content to the fans that are most engaged with the Page. Yesterday, Facebook revealed that, on average, only 16% of a Page’s fans see the Page’s content. So what about the other 84%? Facebook is rolling out a new advertising product called Facebook Reach Generator that will take a story that is published to your Page’s Timeline and post it in the right column of your fans’ News Feeds. These ad units will only be shown to fans of your Page, but Facebook guarantees that your sponsored stories will reach at least 75% of your Page’s fans.
12. Change Your Fan Page Name
When you registered your Page, did you misspell your brand name or have since wished you’d named your Page differently? Facebook is now allowing Pages to request name changes to your Page. To do this, you must contact Facebook Customer Service
It’s Time to Act!
March 30, 2012 is right around the corner and there are a lot of things that you should begin doing right now to make sure that your Facebook Page doesn’t suffer when the existing layout is sunset at the end of the month. Now’s the time to begin working on creating an updated Facebook strategy and editing and building your Page’s creative assets. We knew that this transition was coming to Pages and now that it’s here and we know the exact changes, it’s time to act!