What you should know before activating Facebook’s Timeline for Pages

By Alexandra Cojocaru • 2 years ago • 5 Comments

With the major redesign Facebook  has introduced for Brand Pages, the platform is doing yet another step to become the central hub for your company’s social activity. You still have 3 weeks left to spice things up on your Page before you click that Publish button, so let’s take a look into all the quirks and perks of this change.

What are the key takeaways for brands?

1. Create a stronger visual impact of your Page

Through the new Timeline layout, Facebook gives you the tools to tell your story in a creative and flexible way – the cover photo becomes a canvas for your brand narrative, and you have more control over the way your page looks like by pinning “sticky” items at the top (an idea that Twitter also put into practice a few months ago) or expanding them across the full-width of the Page for better view.

The Timeline cover’s “goal is to symbolize what an organization is all about. For a restaurant it could be a popular menu item, a band could display album cover art, and a business could show a picture of their customers using their product.” Gokul Rajaram, Facebook’s Product Director of Ads

By allowing you to make part of the information you share more visible, Facebook is making some big steps in becoming a key broadcasting channel for your brand. Many businesses have already transformed their Page into a go-to place for customers (instead of their websites), but the Timeline clearly pushes things forward. The fact that you can’t use the cover photo for marketing messages (pricing information, promotions etc.) could be considered as a drawback, but it’s apparently intended as a measure of leveling the field for brands’ social media tactics. We all get to start with a clean slate.

“What Facebook is doing is cleansing the brand page of blatant marketing and promotions. They’re forcing a more social experience from brands through policy.” Jason Falls

You are encouraged to use the Milestones to set up the most important events in your brand’s history, which are highlighted by year on the right side of the page (and you can even back-date significant events). It can also be used as some sort of digital yearbook – making the experience more emotional.

Milestones on The New York Times’ Page

Think of it as your own online newspaper – you get to decide the cover, the main story, and the featured articles. But that also means that your social media manager has a tougher job from now on: maintaining and growing the audience will require more PR skills than before. Sure, being able to engage people, share the most interesting stories in your industry is still important, but the Facebook Page also becomes a lens into your brand identity and it needs to be properly curated. You can use the Timeline to commemorate important events in your history and even play games with your fans.

What better way to tell the story of your brand than arranging your content both spatially and temporally? The old Wall had its limitations, especially by only allowing you to share thoughts and ideas in a reverse chronological order (it’s probably fair to assume that no one ever scrolled back to your first post). The new way of exploring content is turning into a much more addictive experience for fans, making it easier for you to keep your visitors on the Page – and, of course, for Facebook to keep them on the platform.

Applications and custom tabs are now featured in a more visible space of the Page (and you can even customize the front image of the thumbnails to make the call to action stronger), in an attempt to turn them into more engaging experiences for users. After previously having moved them to the left side of the Fan Pages, Facebook now reconsidered the tabs position and put them back in the spotlight. Also, the actual tab pages (where all the action happens) have been upgraded from 520 pixels to 810 pixels, thus allowing you to use all this new space for more creative apps.

“Facebook’s intent with these wider tabs? Think: Your Website on Facebook… [...] This would keep users within Facebook by providing users with a more website-like experience, thus reducing the need to send people back to your actual website.” Tim Ware

Starbuck’s Apps featured under the cover photo

2. Get more data to understand your fans

Another important aspect is the fact that you can now connect with fans on a more personal level. When someone who isn’t a fan reaches your Page, they will first see which of their friends are already fans and their main activities related to the page. That’s probably the best incentive to make them click that Like button. They’ll also see the stories that have received a lot of engagement (not the most recent ones, like it happened before), and that is something you can’t control – it will be determined by Facebook’s algorithms.

Also, it will be much easier to understand the behaviour of your already existing fans in the enhanced Admin panel. It features more information than before, from new likes, most recent messages, insights and notifications, to how well your posts performed. The most important update is the fact that users can now send private messages to your page (a spin-off from Twitter’s Direct Messages). This improves your Page’s functionality to include Customer Support capabilities (another thing they’re borrowing from Twitter, which was the main channel for solving clients issues).

Are there any set-backs to these changes?

However, even though most of this seems to benefit your brand, there are a few things that might arise as problems.

1. First of all, the default landing tab is now gone, so if you had created a custom welcome tab, that won’t be the first thing users see anymore. Applications are showcased under the cover photo, but you can only feature 3 of them on the top row (aside from the Photos box). If you previously developed special applications to show on your landing page, you haven’t lost them altogether, but they’ll be harder to reach. Some of them might need a redesign, since the new tab width for apps is wider (from 520 to 810 pixels). Even if you try to direct people to your old Welcome Tabs, these won’t refresh after they click Like, so people would have to refresh manually – and it’s obvious why this would be a disadvantage.

2. Your old profile image has to be compressed, and if you put that on top of the fact that the cover photo has custom resolution specifications, you already have a few reasons why you’ll need to put some effort into crafting your new Timeline view. Jay Baer explains why the new Timeline is not that friendly for small businesses who don’t have the extra hands to take care of this.

“Creating emotional connections is a luxury that is out of reach for small businesses where the Facebook page manager is doing so on her lunchbreak.” Jay Baer

3. When it comes to community management, you have to take into account that all private messages need your attention. If you’re not prepared to handle Customer Support issues, this can turn into a PR fiasco, as clients may turn to your wall to address complaints. And yes, you can opt to review all posts before allowing them to appear on the page, but that’s not in the sipirit of social media openness either. To top all of this, you can’t send messages as a Page, but only respond to your users’ inquiries.

4. As for content, it will be extremely important that your posts reach more people and go viral, so you’ll have to constantly update your page with pertinent information (of course, that wasn’t less true before, but it didn’t affect your Page’s layout). The Fanpage’s overall aspect depends on what your fans react to even more than before, so you’ll have to pay extra attention to what tickles their toes.

Have you activated Timeline for the pages you administer? What are your thoughts on the possible use-cases?

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