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David Husnian
David Husnian
The "honest marketer", an oxymoron? Not in this case :-) I believe marketing, truth and integrity can all be used in the same sentence. Doing just that I have taken my monthly income and turned into my weekly income... (daily is next!)
 
Posted in Business / Entrepreneur / Marketing

Timelines for Facebook Pages Will Ruin Your Business... Not!

Mar. 6, 2012 8:21 am
Categories: Online Success

Facebook is making a major change to their default landing page starting on March 30, 2012 and the online business community is flooded with commentary about how this will ruin online businesses that have been relying on Facebook.

That is just plain ridiculous.

Of course, there are also floods of marketers rushing out new products to market to all these scared businesses.

That is equally ridiculous and dangerous for you.

While it's still very early and nobody truly understands what will be happening and what impact it may have, we can look at what we know and make some educated guesses on the advantages and disadvantages of what Facebook has told us so far.

I've also created a free 32-page report, Timelines for Facebook Pages Will Ruin Your Business... Not!, which you can download below, on what these changes are, what is causing concerns, what is bringing delight and what you need to do to use Facebook to their best advantage; at least as far as I can tell now, look for an update in the future.

Because of that, this blog post will just touch on the basics; you'll get extra depth in the report.

In addition, I'm going to tell you why I think it doesn't matter one way or the other.

So, let's get started...

What Has Facebook Told Us

On February 29, 2012, Facebook announced that they will remove the ability to define a default landing page, in its place they will start using the profile Timeline look.

In some ways, you get a lot more control of how your page will look and, in other ways, you have a lot less control but one thing that's changed is that the new page layout lets your fans interact more easily with you and to send direct private messages back and forth.

According to Facebook designer Sam Lessin, Facebook has "seen that most businesses have a core group of loyalists, but those loyalists also have friends." He also said. "We’ve made it easier for people to connect with a business through the lens of their friends… It’s a much more personalized experience."

Among other things, the new Facebook Timeline design gives you the ability to:

  • Add a unique Cover Photo to the top of your Timeline
  • "Star" or highlight stories to make them more prominent
  • "Pin" posts to the top of your Timeline
  • Add milestones to mark key events
  • Arrange views and apps right below your Cover Photo

In the report, which you can download below, I look at each of these in more depth.

Major Page Design Changes

As I mentioned, the default Facebook page will now have the profile Timeline look; this is a dramatic change but not necessarily a bad one.

It organizes updates on a time-based vertical "timeline", grouping posts by month and year; that makes for a more visual experience than the current pages and allows for larger photos.

Facebook Photos

This will allow you to put a large (851 by 315 pixels), public banner at the top of your page but there are strict guidelines about what this Timeline header image, called a Cover Photo, can and cannot have in it.

I go into this more in the report but a few examples are that the Timeline (header) Cover Photo cannot have promotions or discounts or anything that encourages people to "like" your page; you can also see more at the Facebook FAQ page on cover photos.

There is also a smaller (180 by 180, scaled down to 125 by 125) Profile Photo image that appears beside your status updates -- it sits in a box within the Timeline cover photo.

Facebook Tabs

In addition, custom tabs are moving to a new location, right below the Timeline Cover Photo. Make sure you order your custom apps so the most important ones are first because when the new Timeline Facebook page is loaded it looks like only the first 3 of them will be displayed.

You can define the order of your tabs so make the 3 most important ones be the top priority.

Facebook will only show up to 12 tabs, their Photos tab (in the #1 position) and 11 you define, so prioritizing them is important here are well so the one you want to highlight are shown first and, if you have more than 11 pages, the top 11 are always shown; note that you can reorder the tabs easily, any time you wish.

Fortunately, one commonly requested feature that Facebook has added is the ability to change the page tab icons; it's as easy as hovering over the icon to see the choices appear and editing the settings.

At the top of the Timeline, on the right side, people who visit your default page will be able to see their friends' interactions with your company.

This gives a more personal feel to those visiting your page, and builds trust in your brand; the only downside is that a negative mention from a visitor's Facebook friend is also likely to show up here.

Pinning Facebook Posts

You will have the ability to "pin" one post (at a time) which means that you decide the very first post anyone sees on your Timeline; it can be a new post that's sticky or one from years back that you want to feature.

This lets you highlight a post you want people to see for a longer period of time than they might normally, particularly on an active page where things can quickly get pushed down.

Note that the post will only be pinned for, at most, 7 days (you can change it at any time) after which they will return to their "proper" location -- the date of the post.

You can, however, change the date of a post which will let you keep a post at the top of the Timeline longer than 7 days.

Highlighting or Starring Facebook Posts

Besides pinning, you can control the look and importance of a post by "starring" it.

What that does is let you feature it more prominently by having the post take up the full width of your Page; you can "star" as many Facebook posts as you like and they will stayed highlighted until you manually unstar them.

Facebook Milestones

You'll also have the ability to create "milestones" on your Timeline.

These give you an easy way to highlight notable feature events that happen in your business -- maybe the release of a new product, a positive mention in the press, the opening of a new location or Web site, or whatever; they should be important moments and events in the history of your company although I can think of some other creative uses :-)

Like starred posts, Facebook Milestones are shown at the full screen width so they are highly visible in your Timeline.

Facebook About Section

The "About" section, that used to be almost hidden in the "Info" tab is now along the top, right under the Profile Photo.

You should rewrite it to better highlight your company but keep it short and on point; it shouldn't be the entire bio of your country but it is the place Facebook expects you to put ALL of your contact information that you want to be made public.

New Administration Capabilities

You'll find 2 new ways to manage and administer your pages including the new administration panel at the top of all the pages; these give you the capability to:

  1. See all your notifications about likes and comments in one place.
  2. Send and receive direct private messages to other Facebook users. This is a major new feature that was highly requested and a great way to communicate with your prospects and customers.
  3. See a snapshot on all the latest activity on the page
  4. Get more idea of what's happening on your Timeline. Facebook Insights is Facebook's analytics tool and, while not something new, most people don't even know about it. In short, it lets you know information like whom and how many people are talking about your company pages.
  5. Manage your posts... Hide and show posts, "star" posts, change the post dates, etc.

What People Are Concerned About

Different people are concerned about different things but there are a few that standout as potential concerns and that are causing all the doomsday talk; I'll go into the top 2 I hear about.

Can't Set the Default Landing Page

This may be the biggest complaint I've heard of and, I'll admit, when I heard it I was turned off by it also.

In the past, you could define what page that people saw when they came to your Facebook pages; this was the default landing page or tab.

Now the Timeline view is the default and cannot be changed.

You can still link directly to other pages and even put a link to your old default page in a pinned post at the top of your Timeline.

Cover Photo Restrictions

As I mentioned above, Facebook has put a lot of restrictions on what you can and cannot do, here's a quote right from Facebook itself on Cover Photos:

"Note: This space is not meant for promotions, coupons, or advertisements. Your cover photo should not be primarily text-based or infringe on anyone else’s copyright."

I'm not sure how Facebook will enforce this but don't risk getting banned by trying to go against their terms of service.

What People Are Delighted About

Large Cover Photo

While people don't like the Facebook Cover Photo restrictions they love having the large photo to be able to make a greater visible impact at the top of the page.

Make it dynamic and exciting, just don't break the rules; one tip is to integrate the Cover Photo with the Profile picture.

Better Customer Engagement

The Timeline itself, the Friends Activity section, the direct messaging, and other things let your default page be a place where you will be able to engage your prospects and customer like you couldn't do so before.

You will have to admit that this is more exciting and engaging for the visitor than a page that just said "Like me to see more"!

Better Post Management

The new administration features make it easier to review, respond, control, highlight and manage your posts than you could ever do before.

This can definitely be used to your advantage and benefit.

Wider Facebook Pages

Facebook pages used to be only 520 pixels wide which is narrow for today’s larger, widescreen style computer displays.

The new pages can be up to 810 pixels wide and this is a significant 56% increase in the amount of things your visitor can see without scrolling or without scrolling so much; this is a very nice addition.

You should be able to use this addition space to better get your marketing messages out.

What You Should Do -- Now!

Set Up Your Facebook Timeline

If you don't Facebook will automatically create one for you and I can guarantee that their software program won't care at all about making it look to your best advantage; it's best to craft it yourself

You need to do these things:

1. Create a sensational cover photo and upload it

2. Create (or update) your profile photo

3. Update your "About" information to make sure your contact information and other key information is in it

4. Organize your tabs/pages so that the top 3 are on shown at all times and the most important 11 are always available. This would be a good time to review and replace your tab icons to something more visually exciting; note, you can have promotions and calls to action in your tab icons.

5. Build you Facebook Timeline post by post, creating milestones, highlighting (starring) important posts, updating images, ordering the posts on the page in the best way for your situation, etc.

6. Finally, because the Facebook pages are now much wider you will want to look at your pages and redo them to take advantage of the extra space and to make sure they look fine.

Conclusion

The removing of the default landing page isn't really all that bad and there are some benefits to it, plus Facebook has added a number of really nice things.

Ignore all the scare tactics and don't rush out and buy any products purporting to help you because it's still too early and too many unethical marketers just want your money (and do care how it harms you).

An example of this is a product I heard of that creates animated GIF for tab icons and other uses.

While that may seem like an attractive product, Facebook has specifically said they don't want automation in the Timeline including animation (and you can't auto play video and a lot more things either).

So, you could buy this product and make the vendor a lot of money while you just put yourself at risk of completely losing your Facebook account!

You can view or download (just right click) my report Timeline for Facebook Pages Will Ruin Your Business – Not! here.

There are some free Facebook resources on the last page, including Facebook training on the Facebook Timeline and a link to their terms and conditions page.

More on the changes in Facebook and the Facebook Timeline after I've done more investigation; if you have any information, thoughts and opinions, or questions on this, please leave them in the comments section below.

 
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