Brands Get a Facebook Face-Lift!
You've likely noticed a few changes in your Facebook brand page lately. In case you haven’t, you will soon. Facebook announced that the Timeline feature is now available for brand pages. The new pages will mimic user profiles, allowing brands to display their history and provide a rich experience for the user. With the recent upgrades, it's important to make sure that your Facebook page conveys the right message!
The new interface changes a variety of commonly used features currently available to page admins. Here is an overview of the most important changes that page admins need to be aware of:
Overall Page Layout
The new layout includes a cover photo, activity history and chronological timeline to share milestones and history. All pages will have a larger image at the top (called the cover photo) along with two columns for recent content. You will have the option to feature content along with pinning images to the top of the page. The navigation items on the left side will now be under the cover photo, next to photos, with a drop-down menu to access additional apps and features. Just as it was important to move applications to the top in the old layout, it's important to feature the applications you want users to view most often in the top row, with the ones that are less important under the drop-down. The about section is featured under your profile icon, so be sure to correctly (and quickly!) explain your organization in that section.
In general, I think the layout changes are good for brands. They allow an organization to tell their story and are a lot cleaner than old brand layouts. The ascetically pleasing display fits nicely to feature compelling, creative images and encourages users to click to learn more. Keep in mind that these changes increase the need to share more rich media (photos) and move away from traditional text-based updates, so be sure to generate and share as many photos about your brand (including logos, examples of work, employees, etc) as you can.
The cover photo is likely the most important (and aesthetically attractive) updates for brand pages. The cover photo is used to welcome a user to the page, provide some unique and interesting imagery, and solidify the story of your brand. However, Facebook has set rules for what you can and cannot say or what you can use as your cover photo. The cover image cannot contain:
- Price or purchase information such as "40% off" or "download at our website"
- Contact information such as website, email, mailing address
- References to user interface elements such as like, share or other Facebook site features
- Calls to action like "get it now" or "tell your friends"
I recommend using a variety of pictures for your cover photo and changing them often. It's a quick and easy way to refresh the look and feel of your brand page!
The new change allows you to showcase the history of your organization. You can create "milestones" for every important event in your organizational history, including key sales, mergers, employees, and more! Have fun with it- tell the story of your company and be proud of the organization you've become!
Thankfully, applications largely remained unchanged with this update! The biggest change to Applications is the change in size. Current applications are 520 pixels wide with a small 25x25 icon on the left side of the page (in the navigation menu). With the change, applications will now be wider,moving to 810 pixels. If you do not update your current apps, Facebook will automatically center the existing one in the larger width. So, if you just have a form or image with white space, you should not need to be concerned with updating right away, as the form will simply be centered in the larger area. In addition to the small 25x25 icon, there is a larger 111x74 image to represent the app in the navigation menu.
Default Landing Tabs/Pages
With the new display interface including a cover photo, default landing pages/tabs are GONE. This could be an issue, because it means you cannot set the default image or page for the user to see when they first visit your Facebook page. However, you can carefully design your cover image to replace this tab. And, you can drive traffic to an app or tab via a paid campaign, which is great for specific contests and promotions you may hold on Facebook.
Here is an example of a cover photo we put together for Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan (one of our clients) that we're using to replace the former landing tab. You'll see that we combined text and imagery to tell the story of the organization and briefly define it's purpose.
Users can now send your fan page private messages. This is great for users who have specific questions for your organization, or if you want to address an issue that a fan posts on your wall in a private conversation. Be sure you let your fans know when you are available to answer or address concerns and give them clear expectations for receiving a response. Just because they can message you 24/7 does not mean they expect (or want) an immediate answer- unless you tell them you will be available. If you cannot respond outside of business hours, your fans will appreciate you taking the time to let them know what to expect (as long as your respond as quickly as you can!).
All fan pages will be converted to the Timeline format March 31, 2012. If you are curious to see examples of pages that are doing it well, check out LiveStrong, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, or Magnolia Bakery. And, for fun, check out some of our Mindscaper's personal Timeline designs.
As always, it’s beneficial to be ahead of the curve and upgrade your own brand’s page. By making the change early, you have more control of items and updates displayed along with giving yourself time to properly build the Timeline story. For a complete listing of all the changes that Timeline brings to fan pages, be sure to visit Facebook’s guide. If you’d like additional advice and tips or need help creating the perfect Timeline cover image, feel free to contact us.
Christina Torri is a Account Manager for Mindscape at Hanon McKendry who works with Internet marketing and social media clients.