The Facebook Timeline is not necessarily new, but it is making headlines all over again. Facebook recently announced that all Facebook pages will be convereted to the new Facebook timeline view by March 30, 2012. So, what is a brand suppose to do in the face of change? Change, of course.
What will change with the new timeline?
Over the years, there have been many changes made to Facebook. In fact, it sometimes feels like they never stop changing. This time around, however, the changes are very positive and offer some major benefits to brands.
One of the most noticeable changes to your brand’s page will be the new cover photo at the top of the Wall page. This image will become the defining element of the page. This is a very exciting change for your brand, since it will add more actual brand to your page.
The timeline portion of the page will completely change how visitors see posts. With the new look, all of your posts – past and present – will be visible in an ongoing timeline layout. This will give visitors a better overview of your brand each time they visit. This feature makes Facebook an even better tool for telling your company’s story.
Location, Location, Location…
With the old Facebook, users had to click on the Info tab to get information about your physical location. While a small change, the new Timeline puts this information front and center. Not a bad move for the local business. If you haven’t claimed your place, now’s the time.
More Control, More Information
Facebook has always offered a great stats and analytics package call Insights, but with the new Admin Panel, those insights are right at your finger tips. The new timeline features a handy admin panel that will give you all of the juicy details you need each and every day, such as new likes and notifications.
Bigger Welcome Tabs
Facebook used to provide only 520 pixels for welcome tabs – the customized pages that welcomed first time visitors. Now, users have access to almost twice as much space (810 pixels). There are plenty of creative things that can be done with this new real estate. It will be exciting to see what develops. However, it should be noted that administrators will no longer be able to set a default landing tab for page visitors. So, while they are bigger – the ‘welcome tab’ technically no longer exists.
Improved Visibility for a few Facebook Tabs
With the new Timeline, the familiar left hand menu is gone. Now, users will only see the first four links at first blush. The remaining tabs will still be available after a secondary click. You can choose which tabs you want highlighted. In the long run, this is a very positive move on Facebook’s part.
In addition to normal everyday status updates, you can now add special milestones to commemorate special events in your companies history. For example, the day you changed over the the timeline!
Many people don’t realize that the new Timeline page also comes with a new Messages features for all brands. Just like Facebook personal profiles, brand pages will now be able to send and receive private messages to inquiring minds.
With the new timeline view, some might worry that they won’t be able to hide old posts that are no longer relevant. Generally with Facebook, once it’s there, it’s there. No more. Brands can now hide or “bury” stories from their timeline with ease.
Fully Active Wall
If there is one thing that social media has taught us, it’s that busniesses are no longer in control of the message. With the old Facebook pages, only posts that we created would show up on our Wall. No more. Now, shares, comments, likes, and friend activity will all be incorporated into the picture of your brand. While you will still have full control (remember you can hide stories), this can post a potential risk for companies that aren’t paying attention to negative attacks.
Pinned Posts and Highlights
With Timeline, you can choose to ‘pin’ one of your bests to posts to the top of your page for up to seven days. This is a nice feature that allows you to keep current news, current. In addition, you can ‘Highlight’ individual posts on your Timeline – causing them to appear in ‘full size’ across the timeline page. Creating a ‘Highlight’ is as easy as clicking the star on the post.
In the top right corner of your Timeline, users will now see other friends that also like your page. In addition, this section will show any conversation that these friends are having about your brand (i.e. specific posts mentioning your page). Some might call this social proof, but it increases your risk of negative press if you aren’t paying attention.
In the new activity log, you will be able to see every post that has ever been published on your pages, as well as mentions by other Facebook users. Think of this as a summary of all the activity that has happened surrounding your Facebook page.
Activating Timeline For Your Brand
So, how do you go about getting the new Facebook Timeline for your page? Facebook makes the process really simple with their Timeline for Pages preview manager. From this page, you are able to individually upgrade each of your pages to the new Timeline with a single click.
Don’t worry, the upgrade doesn’t happen all at once. After you click ‘upgrade’ you have seven days to get your page ready for launch. You should spend this time getting acquainted with the new layout, and setting up the newly available features.
Change Is Good
Overall, the whole Timeline situation is going to work out pretty well for your business. With more branding real estate, and the option for highlighted information on the Timeline, there is a lot for brands to be thankful for. Aside from the specific features, some the primary benefits of Timeline are:
- Better visual exposure for design/branding elements.
- Improved emphasis on the ‘local’ aspects of business.
- Huge step forward in the storytelling aspect of online networking.
- Additional communication avenues show promise for community building.