Facebook rolled out its Timeline to brand pages. Great new features abound in this release. Businesses can create a more visually engaging experience for visitors. Administrators get more control over their page and its contents.
Excitement aside, though, businesses are nervous. How has Timeline changed the rules of Facebook marketing, marketers are asking. What do we need to do to our pages to get ready for this? What will happen to the content on my page? What are the new best practices?
The visceral impact of a massive image dominating your Facebook page should not be underestimated. The image you select play a large role in people’s first impressions of your Facebook presence. Keep it very simple, and don’t turn it into an ad.
NOTE: Facebook says its restriction on advertising messages in Cover photos is to encourage businesses to act and interact like people. Really, Facebook’s ban is about increasing its revenue opportunities.
Well: never fear! CITYPEEK is here with everything you need to to get your business page ready for the Timeline transition and to continue your success in the world’s largest social network, estimated to hit 1 BILLION Users Summer 2012.
Remember: it’s all about your business’s story (Starbucks' cover photo 29.3 million fans).
The introduction of Timeline for pages means that businesses and brands can share their story better. Just like Timeline enables personal users to create a detailed mosaic of their lives online, your business’ beginnings and important milestones will now be front and center for visitors to explore, instead of being under years of activity. More than any other change Facebook has released for pages, this change will help your business personalize itself to reach fans on a human level. Make the most of this opportunity.
- Tip 1: MILESTONES
- Take some time to reflect on your business’s milestones.
Think about your business as you would your personal life. What were the big moments? What was your business’ version of being born, taking its first steps, graduating from school, getting married, having a baby even. These are the events that you want to highlight on your Timeline; they humanize your business and allow visitors to feel more connected to you. If that’s not enough reason for you, “Milestone” updates are likely favored by Facebook’s algorithm, increasing the likelihood that they will receive more impressions in the news feed.
- Tip 2: COVER PHOTO
- Select a visually stunning cover photo.
The most visible change to under Facebook’s Timeline is the new huge visual strip at the top of company pages. This sprawling 851 x 315 pixel space is great for creating a visceral experience… provided you pick the right image. Most companies will struggle finding/creating a striking Cover photo. Many will probably go with photos of their hometown, seasonal/holiday themes, or pictures of shiny, happy, smiley people (either customers or employees).
Before you run out create a giant billboard, you should know that Facebook prohibits any kind of promotional message in Cover photos. You cannot reference anything with a rate, price or other purchase information, such as “Free” or “40% off.” In fact, any call-to-action of any kind (real or implied) is expressly forbidden — e.g., “Download it at our website.” This includes inviting people to Like your page. You can’t even embed contact information, not even a web address, purchase information, contact information.
The cover photo is the first thing that all visitors to your page will see. Make sure it speaks to the uniqueness of your brand and makes a striking first impression. Pricing and , and calls to action (such as “Tell your friends!”) are all off-limits.
Your goal is to delight and intrigue a visitor so much that they want to scroll down the rest of your page. Think of it as your version of the opening credits in a Hollywood Film
TIP 3: CUSTOM APPS
Consider which custom apps you’re using.
With the upgrade to Timeline, apps have been relocated from the left navigation sidebar to the right side of the “About” section. Many people are concered that only four apps show above the cover fold, forcing users to expand the fold if they wish to see more apps. Don’t worry. The relocation and the change to a thumbnail picture actually make apps more prominent on the page. Embrace the enhanced exposure and think of ways to make your apps especially attractive to visitors.
- Tip 4: Customize your apps’ thumbnail images and names.
It’s super-easy to change the image and name that appears for each of your custom apps. Just use the “Edit Settings” option under the Edit button for each app. It’s a quick and effective way to draw visitors’ eyes to the apps, so be creative!
- Tip 4: PLACEMENT
- Be strategic with the apps you include in your “favorites” slots.
All too often, we see businesses with 7, 10 or 15+ apps on their page, and we wonder…do you really know what you’re trying to accomplish? Facebook apps work best when they serve a defined and focused purpose. We recommend only using three or four apps simultaneously to support your Facebook marketing strategy.
The new best practice is to isolate your most critical apps and eliminate the extraneous ones that compete for your visitor’s attention.
- Tip 5: Regularly rearrange your apps to serve your goals.
It’s quick and easy to reorder the apps on your page! As apps become more or less important to your goals at a specific time, reflect this importance in the way you order them. Facebook’s Photos app, however, will permanently be seated in the first slot position which makes it even more important to make the best use of the remaining three slots above the fold.
TIP 6.Pinning and Starring
Admins of company Facebook pages are given two new features that can be used to draw attention to special posts. The first is “pinning.” You can pick any post and “pin” it to the top of your Timeline. The other new feature gives you the ability to highlight posts, making them double-width wherever they would normally appear in the Timeline.
You may be tempted to highlight and pin a single post. You can’t do both. It’s one or the other. You can only have one pinned message. You can, however, have multiple highlighted posts.
You may want to create visual ads for your pinned and highlighted content. You can create ads that are no larger than 404 x 404 pixels for pinned posts, and as big as 843 x 403 pixels for highlighted milestones.
Pinning and highlighting is about as close as you’re going to get to unpaid advertising in Facebook’s Timeline.
Tip 7. Direct Messages
Facebook now offers an optional feature allowing users to send direct messages to companies through their pages. This is presumably to keep Wall chatter more positive, and to quell Twitter’s dominance as the place for social media customer service.
Only users can initiate this level of interaction. You cannot send direct messages to people unless they contacted you first.
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