Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire owner of everybody’s favorite social network, has been tweaking Facebook’s appearance again. In recent months, users have been steadily migrated to the new Facebook Timeline style profile. At first, the change only affected personal users but, on March 30, 2012, every registered user of Facebook will sport the new design. That includes businesses.
Historically, changes to Facebook are met with a whole spectrum of emotions ranging from utter glee to downright despair. Virtually every change has led to people setting up groups lamenting the new style. “Give us back our old Facebook”, they shout; interestingly, it’s probably the same people who months later are shouting about the next change.
The simple fact is that users often like to remain in their comfort zone. Even so, smart businesses will learn all they can about how to make the most of Timeline and ultimately pass these benefits to their fans. Let’s look at 13 ways that the new Facebook Timeline will be advantageous to business users.
The new Timeline boasts a pretty impressively sized (851 x 316 pixels) cover photo. Since this image replaces the default landing tab, businesses should use this generous space wisely with photos and graphics that showcase their brand. Be creative but be careful to stick within the page guidelines. Calls to action, for example, are not allowed, presumably because Facebook wants businesses to spend money on the various ad options.
The practice of using custom landing pages with compelling content to warrant a “like” is not necessarily a thing of the past. Although the cover image is the default landing location, individual apps still have unique URLs. Traffic from Facebook ads, external websites, blogs, tweets and email campaigns can still be driven to the location desired.
In addition to the new cover photo, businesses will still get a 125 x 125 pixel profile picture. Unlike a cover photo, this image shouldn’t really be changed that often, since it provides businesses with an instantly recognizable primary image that can be seen throughout the whole network.
Timeline allows businesses to highlights significant achievements in their history. Moved to a swish new offices? Headhunted a high roller? Got a celebrity endorsement? These are all milestones a business should be shouting about. Timeline makes it easy for users to see all of these achievements — a feature which will undoubtedly go down well with family firms or legacy brands with a long heritage.
If a business wants to shout about a new product, Facebook Timeline makes it easy to do so. Marketing and promotional posts can be positioned at the top of a page by selecting “pin to top” on a specific post. Posts can be pinned to the top for a maximum of seven days though. In order to keep things fresh for repeat visitors, businesses may want to consider changing these every couple of days.
Businesses can assign names and images to individual campaigns and custom tabs. Whether you want to organize, edit, schedule or publish, Timeline makes campaign management a breeze.
Facebook Timeline gives businesses a much greater capacity to build their brand. Individual pages and campaigns are easily branded and the whole thing really stands out much more than the old page style. Companies and brands are better placed to offer a more visual experience to customers and fans.
Underneath the cover image, tabs on Timeline are displayed as views or apps. Businesses can have a maximum of 12 of these, although only four can be displayed at any one time. Views refer to default apps like Photos, Likes, Map and Events, while Apps are used to describe third party apps.
Custom Thumbnails for Apps
A custom thumbnail graphic can be added to all business apps providing a fantastic opportunity to seamlessly brand all calls to action and special promotions.
Like Becomes Liked
The traditional Like button has been tweaked; the Like button now turns to Liked when a user clicks it. This is a useful feature for businesses since it acts as a visual reminder to fans that they already like the page. Although not immediately obvious, if the users hover over the Liked button, several options, including the Add to Interest List, appear.
Got something important to say? Businesses can opt to display any individual post as double wide; spreading the post across the entire page. This feature can be used for posts made by the business itself or by others. To activate, simply hover over the desired post and click on the star icon.
Photos shared by businesses or fans can be repositioned to look their best on the page. To activate this feature, hover over the edit pencil, click for a drop down list and select Reposition Photo.
Visitors to a business page now have the option to send a direct message to the page admins. This feature can be turned off within the page settings but, assuming a business can cope with a possible surge in contact, it should probably be left on to encourage communication.
Facebook Timeline is here, and it’s here to stay — at least for the foreseeable future. Businesses should waste no time looking at the past but instead concentrate their efforts on making their Facebook brand page the best that it can be.
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