Starting March 30th, all Facebook brand pages and profile pages will be switching to the new timeline format. Some brands have already made the change but, if you haven’t, here’s a handy checklist of items you need to be aware of and fix before the change takes place.
With the new time line format, Facebook released a new set of brand guidelines. You can read the page for specifics, but some of the important points to remember are:
- Don’t use a cover image you don’t have the copyright for or permission to use (more on the cover image later in this post)
- Don’t use pricing or calls to action in cover image. I suspect we’re going to see a lot of people get creative in “breaking” the spirit of this rule while staying within the actual rule itself
- Don’t try to incentivize liking or sharing in your cover image. Again, I suspect people will get pretty creative playing within the rules here
- The contact information, such as physical address, telephone, email and web address, should only be in the “about” area of your profile
The cover image is probably the first thing you’ll notice about the new timeline format. The new Facebook cover image size is 851px X 315px (that’s 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels high). As mentioned above, don’t use an image you don’t have the rights to or the permission to use, and don’t use it to show pricing, sell, or as a call to action.
That said, you do want to use it to make an impression. Here are some examples of how non profit organizations are using cover images. You may have noticed that a few pages integrated the cover photo with the profile picture. Although it looks complex, the process is really a lot easier than it looks. Here’s a free Photoshop template for Facebook timelines.
Choosing a cover image isn’t something you should take lightly. IMHO it’s something you should put some thought, time, energy, resources, and money into. You know the saying: you only get one chance to make a first impression. Don’t blow it. If you don’t have anything appropriate, hire someone to take some good, high quality photos. Ideally you want something that is consistent with your brand’s message. If you don’t have any pictures, according to Shutterstock, it’s ok if you use their pictures for your brand pages, but not for your personal page (I would follow up with any stockphoto service you might be using). If you can’t find anything or don’t have a budget, there are some nice free images approved for cover image use from Digital Blasphempy.
Engagement and Messaging
One of the fears a lot of companies have, and one of the reasons they avoid getting involved in social media, is the fear of people saying something negative about them on their brand page. The thing is, if people have something bad to say about you, they are going to say it somewhere. It’s better to have it done on your page where you have some level of control. But that’s not part of the new timeline format change. Instead of doing customer service in public on their Facebook wall, brands can now have private messages with customers/fans. Hopefully this will remove some organization’s concerns about getting involved on Facebook and social media in general.
Loss of Landing Pages
One of the biggest complaints about the new format is the loss of a default landing page. In the old system, you could “guide” the customer’s experience with different landing pages. This gave brands a lot of control, but it was also heavily abused with like-gating and tricking people in sharing or linking you. Now you have one default landing page.
Only 4 Tabs are Available
Similar to landing pages, you used to have multiple tabs, but now you only have four. The first is the photos tabs and is “locked” into the first slot. If you haven’t done a anything with photos before, now would be a good time to backfill that area. You can control the three other tabs’ names and icons, so use them to your advantage
Pin Featured Content
If your company has an important post, message, or or offer, you can now “pin” that to the top. It won’t be displaced when you post new updates or upload new photos. Just keep in mind that you can only pin something for 7 days. When you’ve pinned it, you’ll see a little ribbon in the upper right corner.
Like personal pages, brand pages can now have milestones. Use them for things that are important TO YOUR CUSTOMERS, not for things like when you clipped your toenails.
Brand Name Changes and Vanity URL
If you don’t have a brand page yet, choose wisely: once you pass 100 fans/followers, you can’t change it. If you are over 100, you can force people to unsubscribe to get yourself below that threshold and change your name. If you’ve got a good size following, though, that’s not a viable solution, and you’re stuck with the name you chose when you started. Facebook has also removed the minimum of 25 fans/followers to get a vanity URL. In the age of Fiverr.com, it was a pointless restriction that was easy to overcome.
So there you have a recap and checklist of everything you need to know about the new Facebook timeline format. If you’re interested in following my Facebook fan page with SEO, marketing, and social media posts, here’s a link to my page.