Facebook Timeline for Brands: Game Changer

The long awaited unveiling of the new timeline for brand pages is here with a few surprises – starting with the fact that they did it unceremoniously around o’dark thirty while most of us were asleep. Needless to say, the world of marketing is reacting with all sorts of reviews.

To help you weed through everything, I’ll be hosting a free webinar this Saturday and at the end of this post I’ll share with you the information.

For right now, let me give you a quick birds-eye view of Facebook’s changes.

Starting today, page owners and admin will see a message at the top of their pages to preview the new format for themselves. They can stay in preview mode until they have made all of the changes they want to make, including a host of new graphics. They are the only ones who will see the preview. I highly recommend that you don’t publish the new layout until you have everything in place. You’ll have until the end of March, according to Facebook, at which time all pages will be transitioned to the new format.

The biggest bummer is no more Landing Tabs for new visitors. While the page is still there, you will no longer have a default welcome page for new visitors. This means you will need to carefully think about how you will portray your brand in that new space.

While Facebook is putting the emphasis on the big cover image (851 x 351 pixels) they have also implemented a host of restrictions on what you can put on the cover. Here’s what Facebook says:

“Cover images must be at least 399 pixels wide and may 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”

Bottom line, this means no calls to action, no discounts, you can’t even include the url to your web page or blog on the cover image. What this means to all of us is getting very creative. It will be very interesting to see if these restrictions change over time.

What we called tabs are now called apps and, as everyone was expecting, they are thumbnail sized. Because you can customize the graphic in the app, it will provide a whole new area for visual branding.

The pages associated with the old tabs have now grown in width from 520 px to 810 px. This provides a lot more room for your messaging.

facebook timeline changes 2012

Highlighting posts, messaging and the admin panel get my thumbs up.

Now you can highlight posts through “pins” and “stars”. Important stories won’t get lost as they do now, move down the screen through time. Instead they can either be placed at the top or made larger to visually draw the attention to your fans.

Messaging is exactly how it sounds. Fans have access to a button on your page that allows them to send you a message. You’ll receive the message just as you receive other messages today and be able to reply to the originator. This is great for customer service and means I’ll get rid of the “contact tab” that I currently have on my page.

The admin panel is exactly that a panel where all of the information you need to manage your page is in one place. Now instead of clicking one icon to see notifications, another to see new likes and a third to view your Insights, it’s on a dashboard. Facebook also promised to provide information there that admins should find helpful.

My thoughts …

I had a chance to sit in on the Facebook Marketing Convention streaming webinar today. To say the least I found the information they presented and case they made for each of the changes thought provoking.

This is a game changer! In subtle and not so subtle ways Facebook is shaping how we will interact with prospects and customers.

The outlook for solo entrepreneurs and micro businesses is going to be challenging. Those who have grasped the concept of engaging content to win fans and gain authority will be further ahead, but the bar has been risen. Those that have struggled with engagement are going to have an even bigger challenge in front of them. Unfortunately, some will fail and some will just give up.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, if you’re savvy enough!

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