In this article, let’s go over a few of the new changes Facebook has forced upon page owners with their new Facebook Timeline feature. There are a great many changes and, whether or not you like them, they are very likely here to stay – at least for a while.
Facebook Timeline – background
Facebook’s stats are reiterated time and again. But they are for a reason. Facebook’s 850 million users are active users, 483 million of them use Facebook daily and 425 million are on Facebook through their mobiles – they carry Facebook in their pockets, purses and everywhere they go. Facebook also supports 70 different languages and is quite literally all over the world. These stats continue to grow by the month and Facebook has said they’re aiming for 900 million by the end of 2012 – but many think it’ll be closer to the Billion mark.
Facebook also accounts for 95% of time spent on social networks. This means that, of the total time people are spending on social media sites on the Net, Facebook is eating up 95% of that time. Unlike sites like Twitter where people leave quick tweets, Facebook has a huge “stickiness factor” where users are not just checking in and out, they are sticking around, looking for updates, and finding people, pages, groups, games, and more – they are interacting.
Facebook Timeline for Business
Facebook first rolled out the new Facebook timeline feature for personal profiles a few months back but people were also given the choice to opt-out of using the new feature. As of February 29th, Facebook began testing this new Facebook timeline layout with business fan pages — as of March 30th, all Facebook pages will automatically change over to the new Facebook Timeline layout. Facebook has given every page owner a month’s grace to test, learn, and edit their new page’s look before they are published permanently in the Facebook Timeline layout – and seen by all their fans and users alike.
One of the biggest changes Facebook has made is taking away the default landing pages with the new Facebook Timeline layout. This default landing page was where page owners could send users when they wanted to advertise their brand or promote something. This was also an excellent way for page owners to “force” users to LIKE their page in order to access more of its content / wall. It worked well to convert users into fans but Facebook has said they don’t want businesses being overly promotional. Facebook thinks that all brands have a personality and they want to provide these brands the opportunity to express themselves through the new layout. Pages can no longer force anyone to LIKE their page, they can only offer enough value to users that they want to click the LIKE button.
It is important that your page’s Wall (now called the Activity Feed on the Facebook Timeline layout) is designed in such a way that users want to read your updates, to see your pictures, to find out more about your products or services and, most importantly, that they don’t mind seeing you in their newsfeed. Page tabs and apps are still available, although since there is no default landing page, page owners will have to drive traffic to these custom pages if they want users to enter a contest, sign up to their list or give up an email in exchange for a free gift.
The New Features of Facebook Timeline
So what exactly is new with Facebook’s New Timeline? First and probably most notable is the introduction of the new Cover Image – where Facebook timeline pages can display a wide image of their brand. Profile pictures are no longer long and narrow and they don’t appear down the left hand side anymore. Nope, now they are front and center – taking up a large amount of the virtual real estate on your page. There are a few rules which we’ll get into later, but just know that page owners can’t display any ‘calls to action’ or contact info on their new Cover Images. The About section of the Facebook timeline layout is now displayed in a more prevalent space below the cover image and profile picture. Tabs are also found under the Cover Image, giving these two areas more eyeballs focused on what your page is about and what it offers.
The new Highlight Feed of the Facebook timeline allows users to view and interact with your page the way they want to. The new Facebook Timeline Navigation lets users easily explore your page’s or business’ past. The Wall has changed to what is now called the Activity Feed – a place where users can view a collaboration of status updates, photos, videos, and other forms of user engagement. The Friend Feed is displayed on all pages and shows users’ posts made by any of their friends about your page.
Pinned Posts, Milestones and Starred Stories are three new ways to highlight important updates, launches, promos, etc. within the Facebook timeline layout. Private messaging has been introduced to pages – now fans and non-fans alike can directly send private messages to pages. This is accessed in the new Admin Panel which helps admins easily navigate through their page’s Insights and Messages, as well as view the new Activity Log which shows everything ever posted by the pages admin or its fans.
For more information on Facebook timeline for business, there is an outstanding free guide that covers all the Timeline changes in depth — you can download it by clicking here.