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It’s just a matter of Timeline

Facebook Timeline Overview for Brand Managers

By: Ashlee Richards (_ashleer)

Well, folks. They’ve done it again.  Just as you thought your brand’s fan page was completely built out and finally at its peak, our good friends at Facebook threw us another change-up. They like to keep us on our toes, don’t they?  You can gripe and moan all you want… maybe even threaten to delete the account, but we all know that’s not going to happen. So take a few moments to shake your fist angrily at a photo of Mark Zuckerberg (ready… go), then just accept and adapt… mainly because you have no choice.  By March 30th all pages will be automatically updated to the Timeline layout.  You only have about a week left to preview and tweak before you publish, so you better get on it!

When I was asked to write a post about Timeline for pages, I thought “What can I write that’s not already out there?” But then I realized what I had looked for, but haven’t come across yet… a short, sweet, to the point, synopsis of what to expect with this whole Timeline thing and how to efficiently update the brand pages I manage.  Let’s be honest, we are busy people, and we don’t have time to scour multiple 50-page white papers and blog posts to uncover the 3 pages of actual information! So what I’m going to do is take everything I’ve learned via research and trial and error, and lay it out for you in a  comprehensive format that may be easily referenced.  We’ll go over the major effects that Timeline will have on your pages, and how to take advantage of those changes.  We’ll take a look at a couple of Timeline pages done well, and I’ll provide some great (and free!) resources you can use to optimize your page.

First, what does this whole Timeline thing mean to your page(s)?

Here are the top 6 effects that meant the most to me:

1. The thing that everyone is freaking out about… no more default landing pages!
Thanks a lot, Facebook. Now that landing page with the fancy like-gate and data capture fields that you paid a designer a pretty penny to create is no longer going to be the default when someone clicks on your page.  But fret not. With the cover image (billboard) space at the top of your timeline (we’ll talk specs below), you can brand the bejeezus out of your wall and it’s ALWAYS visible! (See: Macy’s and Coca Cola’s Timelines) Also, those landing pages can still be utilized. All installed applications will continue to own a unique URL you can share with people, so it’s not a complete loss.

2. More space in the “About” section = More space for calls-to-action
Even the minor updates can offer a major advantage.  The About section falls right under the profile thumbnail pic and provides the perfect real estate for a winning call-to-action.  Be sure to take advantage of the extra room to drive your fans where you’d like them to go. At the very least, include your website URL.

3. Tell your story
Milestones are a new feature that brands should take full advantage of.  Everybody likes a story, right? And stories make companies and brands seem more human. Use these milestones to lay out the life of the company.  When it started, when it introduced products or services, when it hired people, when it went public… just any ol’ thing that contributed to its success.  For instance, The New York Times has pimped out their timeline with milestones dating back to the publication’s birth in 1851. They even included an image of that first paper, back when it cost….. wait for it…… one penny a copy!

4. Control the user experience
The “Pin to Top” and “Highlighted Stories” are brilliant updates, so take advantage of them to ensure that visitors are seeing what you most want them to see.  Using the edit pencil at the top-right of every post, you can decide which post should be pinned to the top of your wall. Or you can highlight a story, by clicking the star, which blows it to the full width of the page, so it stands out.  By pinning a post to the top of your page, you can communicate the most important message (recent blog post, promo code, information about your business, etc.) to every visitor, and it will remain at the top for about 7 days. You could even use your branded cover graphic to point to that post… think about the possibilities!  Be creative… use it, and love it!

5. Improved customer service feature
There has always been that pain-point for users and brands that they couldn’t communicate via Facebook in a private manner.  If one wanted to interact with a brand, it had to be publicly displayed on the wall (if the page even allowed users to post!) Well, fret no more because there is a messaging feature on fan pages, so if I wanted to message you to tell you how awesome you are, instead of put it on blast for the world to see, I can!  And it will drop right into a messages folder that you can access when you’re using Facebook as your page.

6. Admin Panel Awesomeness
This is something that will make us look back on the old way of doing things and wonder “how did we manage like that for so long!?”  It’s a clean-looking dashboard that displays right above the banner space (and can be hid if you’re tired of scrolling past it) that shows you all of the recent *stuff* that’s going on with your fans. You’ll see recent notifications, likes, messages, and an insights overview.  If you want to view more in-depth analytics, there’s a big link to your Insights page, so you can easily access the updated, much sleeker data.

Bonus Update!
You can now create customized thumbnails for all of your apps!  Since they are larger and toward the top of the page, I was concerned that the generic logos that display with some of my apps would become eyesores, but alas! Facebook thought of that too. Get creative with these! I haven’t seen it heavily advertised, so here’s how you can access the feature (find the specific dimensions below):

– First, click the down arrow that expands the view so you can see all of your installed apps
– Hover over the desired app, and click the edit pencil
– Click “Edit Settings”
– Select “Change” that appears to the right of “Custom Tab Image:”
– And voila! You update it to be whatever you want!

Pretty sweet, huh?

As promised, here are a few dimensions that you will need to know to create the images for the updated design:

Banner Image: 830 x 315p.
The image will be stretched to fit these dimensions and must at least be 399p wide.

Profile Thumbnail: 180 x 180p

App Thumbnails: 111 x 74p

I want to mention a fabulous resource I stumbled upon while conducting my research. Mari Smith is a social media guru, and just about everything she produces is worth a read/watch.  She’s kind of my hero… hehe.  This article of hers is most helpful, and if you’re just beginning, download her Facebook checklist!

So, you see, the transition is not going to be as bad as one might think. There are lots of options and ways to improve your branding and customer service!  You have one week from today.  Accept that it has to be done, plan, and execute!  You’ll be happy you did… not to mention you’ll finally be rid of the Facebook reminders to upgrade to Timeline! 😉

I tried to keep this short and sweet, so please, add a comment if you’re noticing more updates that should be mentioned!  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at arichards@eilertinc.com. Have a fantastic day, and happy Facebooking!  🙂

-Published March 23rd, 2012

3 Responses so far.

  1. Michele Redmon says:

    Ashlee: Great succinct overview. Nice Job!

  2. Dewayne says:

    Thanks for finally talking about >It’s just a matter of Timeline

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