The following article was contributed by guest author Randy Tanudibrata, Interactive Designer at GetIT Comms.
Facebook, as one of the most interesting company that is rapidly changing, just announced another new feature on their platform. Facebook will change their fan page format into Timeline format.
On December 15, Facebook announce Timeline on for personal. Then recently, Feb 29 2012, Facebook announced that Timeline is now live for first time for some organizations that use pages and can be accessed by every Facebook fan pages owner without publishing their page. And later on 30 March all Facebook fan pages will be automatically moved to Facebook Timeline format whether you like it or not.
So what’s new? Let’s dissect the new features on Facebook Timeline for brand and how it affects us as marketers.
If you have already changed your personal profile to Timeline for quite sometime then you will feel right at home. The first thing that you will realize is the new large cover photo. Just like Timeline for Personal, the Timeline for Brand employs a larger image at the top of the page.
The great thing about the cover photo is that you have a bigger canvas to show your brand identity without worries about the profile picture. You can really stretch your creativity on using these two canvases. Some brands are using the cover picture conjunction with the profile picture like (https://www.facebook.com/OldSpice) while other or most of the brand use a different picture for cover page and use their brand logo for the profile picture (https://www.facebook.com/olympics).
Another thing that you need to remember is that the profile picture (the smaller picture inside the box) will appear in your fan’s or fan’s friend’s newsfeed, so make sure it represents your brand consistently. Remember you can change both cover and profile picture as often as you like, so there is no limit to your creativity here.
However there is something to remember here, Facebook has specifically mentioned that you can’t overly populate it with promotion, call to action or contact information. This is surely changes the game how we (as marketers) look at the big cover image as a big billboard to put some ads and promotion there. The new Facebook Timeline is a great place for establish your brand by curating a narrative story through cover page, Profile picture and Timeline. The goal of your cover photo is to tell your brand’s story and not to be an advertisement.
You don’t have to worry if you find difficulties creating your cover photo. There are plenty of tools to help you. Here are some: http://mashable.com/2012/01/04/facebook-banner-creators/#4110111-Cover-Canvas–Name-and-Photos
Tabs and Application
The first thing you notice about the application tab is that there is no more lists of apps on the left hand side bellow the profile picture anymore. It has been replaced by the four boxes on your page dashboard. You can only show two custom apps to be visible, the other two will always be Photos and number of likes or Maps.
Facebook Timeline has replaced the apps in the page tab layout (510px) to a new 810px layout. This new canvas gives you bigger space for your creativity and maximizes your user experience by focusing them only on the apps without much distraction.
Facebook Timeline does not allow you to set a default landing page, everyone will land at the same Timeline page. This will completely change the way we control the user experience. Since you have no control of the landing page, you have to be more careful on your Timeline, especially as the first boxes on your Timeline will be the first items that the audience will see.
Facebook ads for brand will be vital here, because that’s the only way we control and guide the audience to the landing page.
Just like most of the Facebook Fan pages, the landing pages are usually just a call-to-action to “Like” their page. But the game has changed. Without the landing page we can’t “force” the audience to like our page before exploring the page. And if you think you can put it on the cover page, you need to think again. As I mentioned earlier that Facebook has created four new rules (https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=276329115767498) about things that you are not allowed to put on your cover pages. One of them is “References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features”. But don’t worry we will talk about the solution for this later on in this article.
Timeline and Milestone and stars
Facebook Timeline layout is divided by the line which represents the time chronology. The first few boxes on the right hand side of Timeline is featuring all friend activity; such as how many friends already “Like” your page, who are they, and what did they share/comment about your post. The rest of the boxes are the post and activity you have done to your page based on the chronological order from the recent activity to the oldest one.
You can curate the narrative on your Timeline further more by adding Milestone and stars to the post. Milestone is a major event that is relevant to your brand, such as when your brand was founded, when you launch your product, when you launch an event, etc. Tell your audience your story using photos or videos, curate your content and align to your industry.
A star is used to highlight an important post on your brand’s page. By clicking “star” icon on the top of your post, your post will expand to widescreen, filling all the width of your page and it will be always visible. The post that you highlight will be the most visible post among the other posts. With this new feature you can curate the narrative in your Timeline with the content/ post that you think will drive the most engagement, earned media and viral growth.
Facebook Timeline format also pushes us to be more aggressive to keep our content fresh, relevant and up to date.
Pin a Post
Another new thing about Facebook Timeline is “Pin”. With “pin”, you can pin a post so it will remain on top of the Timeline for seven days. Brands can only “pin” one item at the time. The post that you “pin” will appear at the top of the Timeline and its chronological place. Pin is a great tool for marketers to highlight the campaign or Call-to-action to the audience. This is the best way if you want to promote your campaign effectively on Facebook Timeline. And since there is no default landing page on the Timeline, it seems “pin” is the best solution for driving your user engagement.
Timeline now gives users the ability to send a private message to brand pages. This feature was not available in the old Facebook Fan pages, and I personally think this is great. Sending messages through private messaging will create a more intimate engagement with users yet keeping the wall (Timeline) clean. But saying that, it means you have to ensure that the messages you received are replied in a timely and appropriate manner.
There is plenty of time for you to think about the changes, adjusting your page and your apps before finally making the switch. Just be prepared for all the changes, because on March 30 Facebook will move all fan pages to Timeline Format.