The Top 5 Things to Know About Facebook Timeline for Pages

March 1, 2012

The Facebook Marketing Conference held in New York city on Feb 29th revealed a lot of interesting changes to how brands will interact on Facebook.

Facebook highlights a lot of the key changes to the page in this document and there is certainly a lot to consider.  With nearly 845 million people on Facebook, it’s critical to understand how these changes will affect this large user base.

Top 5 Things to Know

  1. All pages will convert by Mar. 30, you can preview changes and even publish now
  2. Users can direct message the page admin privately
  3. Timeline view has a lot of additional features like cover photos, weekly highlights, and starring posts to make your page more rich
  4. As of right now, you can’t default the landing page to an app.  All users land on the timeline
  5. Friend activity prominently featured on top of page making experience more personalized

The Details…

Direct Message Page Admin

  • I strongly believe that this is the change that will impact companies the most.  Users can now privately message administrators of the page.
  • This is a major change for companies providing customer service on Facebook.  This optional feature allows users to privately message a page admin.  Many companies currently provide an email address for concerns within a body of a comment post.  This is not ideal as it makes a company email address public and open to abuse.  Additionally, for companies that handle sensitive personal data, it has been hard to resolve customer issues on Facebook.
  • Now, Facebook Administrators can have a user directly message information to them to resolve an issue 1-1 in a more personal way.  Twitter has had similar functionality by allowing companies who follow users to Direct Message them details.
  • Now that users can send private, direct messages to brand pages, make sure you have an established and agreed upon process to ensure that messages are responded to or escalated in a timely manner. This is critical because a delayed or complete lack of response, might lead to frustrated users who express their concern on your page wall.

Timeline

  • Brands can now make historical posts to their history with the best application of this being the New York Times.  While many companies are excited about this, it can take a lot of time to organize the content in a compelling way and it’s uncertain how important this functionality is to users.
  • Should you consider doing this?  Well, a good way to find out is to see if you have a similar history page on your website.  Look at your web analytics for this page and benchmark that page to the rest of your site others.  If it’s a highly engaging page, you probably want to prioritize this as your customers find this valuable.  IF not, you may want to focus your resources on creating interesting content to show up in the news feed, which is still the most compelling user experience on Facebook.
  • For those companies that can tell a compelling story, work with brand archivists to map out key dates and when possible, add photos to give the content an extra layer of visual appeal to deepen your brand’s story.

Featuring Posts on Timelines

  • Weekly Featured Posts are another interesting feature released.  Brands can now pin a post to the top of the page that will last for 7 days and take up the width of the page.
  • Use this to feature the top content of the week in your editorial calendar as it will be prominently featured when a user visits the page.
  • Plan your content calendar to determine the posts you want your Likes to take notice of and star them.  These posts will likely receive a higher amount of traffic and impressions since it’s featured content.
  • For content you want to keep prominent without having to pin it – use the ‘highlight’ feature, which expands content to the full width of the brand page (think photos and videos).

Friends Activity on Timeline

  • Facebook says that users engage more with brand pages when they can see how their friends engage with the brand so friend activity is now prominently featured at the top of the page. The impact to companies is to continue to focus on content that creates activity (likes/comments/etc.) that others will see when they visit the page

Cover images

  • Similar to how users have a cover photo on timeline, you can now add a horizontal cover image, similar to personal pages.  Think of this as a welcome banner to your page but keep in mind that there are some restrictions. You can’t put price information, contact information, references to Facebook activities (LIKE THIS), or a call to action like “Get It Now” or “Tell Your Friends”.
  • Think about what you want your fans and new visitors to take away from their visit and how you want them to perceive your brand. Make sure to choose wisely, this photo is prominent and will impact their experience.

Admin Panel

  • Changes to the admin panel allow it to function more like a dashboard.  Administrators can get a quick view of insights, notifications, and private messages

Changes to Apps

  • You can now use more space in apps as they can extend to 810px, up from 520 pixels.  Good news, old apps will still look fine in the new timeline.  However, it appears that you can no longer make the default page an App as instead you are automatically sent to a timeline. This impacts programs that use Like-gating to drive more likes.

Further Resources

  • Facebook has a great training video to get you acclimated.  Also, there is a great product guide from Facebook as well as a nice overview.

Additional writing credit for this post goes to Mike Petriello and Jasmine Lyons.

Ben Foster is SVP Digital Strategist in Chicago and an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University. He loves surfacing technology news and geek culture on Twitter @benphoster. He has seen 67 Phish shows, caught three foul balls at baseball games, and plays a frost mage named Killosaurus in World of Warcraft.