In case you haven’t heard, the Facebook Timeline is becoming mandatory for all business Pages by the end of this month. The Timeline layout puts stronger emphasis on personalisation via the Milestones feature, and encourages businesses to make their pages more engaging through posting visually rich content.
Let’s look at some of the major differences between the traditional Facebook layout and the Timeline layout, so you’ll be well prepared when the big switch comes.
Cover Photo and Profile Picture
The cover photo is the first noticeable and major change to your business Page, which you can see below:
You now have one large image to showcase what you are all about! Facebook have kept the guidelines strict with this one, saying the cover image must not contain:
- Price of purchase information
- Contact information
- Reference to user interface elements e.g. ‘Like’ or ‘Share’
- Calls to action, e.g. ‘Enter our new promotion here’
Milestones and Timeline
This is your chance to display your company’s history and story through visually compelling milestones. You can take advantage of the time-tagging/milestone feature and post old pictures, articles or videos that highlight significant events and achievements your business has experienced over the years.
Highlighted and Pinned Posts
To help make your Page more visually engaging, picture and video posts are shown much larger than in the traditional layout. For a post to really stand out, you can now ‘highlight’ your posts so the picture or video will span across the whole page (see below), or you can ‘pin’ the post so that it will stay at the top of your timeline for up to one week.
New Applications and Tabs
I was a little disappointed that default landing pages have been removed in the new Timeline layout. The old landing page setting was a great way for businesses to welcome new fans, promote special offers and encourage growth of their fan base.
Another change is the shifting of Tabs for application pages from the left hand side of your Facebook page to right underneath the your cover photo.
As you can see in the new Facebook tab and applications picture above, there are four spaces available. As an admin, you can have up to 12 apps, however only four can be shown on your business Page.
You now have the ability to enable private messages that users/fans can send you. To me, enabling this is a no brainer. Private messaging opens a new means of communication that is more personalised between the admins and followers of a Page. It will also prevent messages like these from showing up so frequently on your Wall: “Hello? My delivery still hasn’t come … can someone help me?” Many customers would much prefer to resolve issues like these privately, and only post publically to your Wall because (until now) they had no alternative.
You soon will be able to offer your Facebook fans special deals through your Page and their news feed. The offers will be free to post or claim, and fans that take you up on an offer will be auto-emailed a unique voucher code to redeem it.
All the important things you would want to view about your Facebook business activity are now all on one page – the Admin Panel.
The Admin Panel is broken into 5 sections:
- New Likes
- Page Tips
Before the new layout becomes mandatory, you should invest at least an hour or two getting your Page Timeline-ready. You don’t want to ignore this great opportunity to make a greater impression on your followers, and nor do you want your followers to get the wrong impression (i.e. you’re an outdated brand that doesn’t respond well to change).
The main things I would focus on:
- Choose a great cover and profile photo
- Ensure that your tabs/applications are reviewed and optimally displayed
- Post more visual content
- Use pins and highlights to give your best visual content maximum impact
- Fill in your Timeline gaps with milestones, so your followers can get a better understanding of your company’s story