This Friday, March 30, marks the date Facebook will automatically upgrade Facebook brand pages into the new Timeline format. The transition means adding more than just a cover photo to your brand’s page—it presents an opportunity to better connect with your target audience and more clearly tell your brand’s story.
Mashable reports that brands already using Timeline see an average of 46% increased engagement per post. Is your brand ready, and is your marketing team taking advantage of the new features available in the updated format?
This post outlines key differences between the old and new format for brand pages, how to make sure your brand is ready for the transition, and the marketing opportunities the new format presents. Done right, it’s a game-changer for social marketing.
Facebook Timeline: A Marketer’s 101
With Facebook Timeline, fans’ and non-fans’ first impression of your brand is a cover photo, followed by friends who also like the page, your brand’s posts on the left, and your fans’ posts on the right (for each viewer, it’s a different experience based on connections).
However, it’s more than a cosmetic update; the new format engages viewers with your brand’s story. Timeline helps fans and non-fans see the big picture with the ability to scroll through documented milestones, such as founding details, leadership updates, industry awards, product or service introductions, and more.
Ready to transition your page? The following are new or enhanced Timeline features, and details on how to implement them for your brand. See the above image for a visual reference on each element.
How To Set Up Your Brand’s Facebook Timeline
- Size: 850 x 315 pixel (px) banner
- In efforts to lessen promotions and enhance brand personality, Facebook’s terms of service prohibit cover photos from including pricing, purchase information, contact information, calls to action or references to Facebook features (such as “Like Us” or “Share”).
- Note that the cover photo will disappear as viewers scroll down your brand’s page. Your profile picture shrinks, but remains in a freeze-pane header.
- Mashable lists 20 creative brand cover photos if you need a spark of inspiration.
- Size: 180 x 180 px*
- Best to include a clear image without too many details or words, as this image will shrink when viewers scroll down the page, as mentioned above.
*Editor's Note: On April 19, Facebook sent a note to page administrators about decreased profile picture size. Effective April 26, profile pictures will be 160 x 160 pixels, and will sit 23 pixels from the left and 210 pixels from the top of the page. With even smaller image size, it's best to use a clear, simple profile picture.
- 150 characters
- Links to your brand’s full About page.
Custom Application Thumbnails
- Size: 110 x 74 px
- Feature up to four application links across your Timeline, with an arrow to the far right that links to more.
- The only thumbnail with a fixed position is “Photos,” which will always show your most recently uploaded image. Keep this in mind if you’re going for a branded theme in your apps, or if you want a certain application to stand out among others.
- TIMELINE TIP: If you have more than four apps, feature the “Like” application in the second, or hidden, row of applications. Why? First, you’ll have more room for custom content. Also, when viewers click this app, they don’t automatically like the page. Instead, they’re directed to your brand’s Like analytics, perhaps counter-intuitively. This is a cool competitive analysis tool for marketers, but a waste of space when aiming for audience engagement.
This screenshot shows Coldplay’s "Like" insights. You don’t have to be a fan to see this. From a marketing perspective, if I want to know what Coldplay did the weeks of January 22 and March 4 to surge its Likes, Timeline navigation makes it easy to jump to these dates to check it out.
Custom Applications (formerly known as tabs)
- The new Timeline means no more “fan gates,” or default landing pages that force viewers to Like your page.
- Size: 810 px layout (wider than the old 520 px layout)
- If you haven’t updated old landing pages to take advantage of the additional retail, your old tabs (or apps) will appear centered within the extra space.
- TIMELINE TIP: Build analytics and integrate your CRM into custom apps to better connect with viewers and measure return of social marketing efforts.
- Viewers used to be able to see either only the brand’s posts or all posts (brand and fans/tags), but now posts made by other people are contained in a box on the right-hand side.
- Note that some brands may need more control over user-generated content. Admin features allow you to approve content before it goes live on your Timeline.
- Strategically feature the best articles or milestones that showcase your brand personality or spur engagement with Highlight and Pin functions.
- Highlight your favorite posts for additional real estate—they’ll be featured across the entire page to stand out in the regular two-column Timeline format.
- Pin posts to keep them at the top of the Timeline for 7 days.
- Enable messaging to let viewers connect personally with direct messages to your brand.
- Note that your brand cannot initiate contact, but will be able respond when fans and non-fans message you. If you enable messaging, make sure you have a dedicated community manager to engage potential fans, fans and brand ambassadors.
Brand Brag Board
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