A Facebook Timeline Strategy

Iain Bartholomew

Argh! You just logged in to Facebook and your customised business page with your expensive welcome tab and customised sidebar is gone.Gone to be replaced by a whole new system that you might not understand, but you certainly don't like. Why must the Facebook people RUIN your ENTIRE LIFE like this? Don't they know that you rely on your social networking nous to generate business and speak to your customers? What are you supposed to DO? 

Calm down. Exhale. Everything is going to be alright. 

Cover Image

If you haven't already noticed, you can now place a large image (851 x 315 pixels) at the head of your page, a big visual opportunity to express your brand's personality. There are restrictions on what you can put in the image - Facebook don't allow messages that have a call to action, including requests to 'like' or 'share' content - but it's a great big, prominent area which allows you to be creative and make a positive first impression. 

Apps

Your tabs are now apps, located prominently in a bar below your profile picture, with your description at the beginning of the row and up to four apps (one of which must be your photographs), with customisable icons, alongside. Whilst you can no longer set your page up to direct visitors to one of these by default, you are able to do it yourself as each app has a unique URL to which people can be sent: if you have a welcome tab you want to keep using, change the link from your website to the unique app URL, for example. 

Highlights

Another new feature is the ability to highlight a particular post or share within the Timeline. With one click you are able to expand the important post across the width of the page (851px wide) and make a big impact. There are no restrictions on the content of these images beyond Facebook's usual regulations on content.

A related feature is the 'pin' option, which allows you to take a post and pin it to the top of your timeline for a maximum of seven days, meaning it appears above newer content throughout that period. This is important if you are releasing critical information and do not want to suspend your usual posting schedule to accommodate the priority being given to the big news.

It is worth noting that a post cannot be both pinned and highlighted at the same time - pinned posts will always be restricted to the left hand column of the Timeline. It is likely that this is to prevent highlighted posts being used as secondary banners, however no official reasoning is available. 

Milestones

A Timeline wouldn't be a Timeline without some kind of mechanism to record major events. Facebook's solution for business Pages are Milestones. On the personal version of Timeline these are much more specific, but for businesses a blank canvas is provided. There is a specific space to enter details of the foundation of the business, provided it did not come into existence before the year 1000AD, and thereafter Milestones can be added at whatever date is preferred, dating back to the foundation entered previously. These can be highlighted or not, as preferred, and function in much the same way as regular posts, with slightly different formatting and more control over backdating and editing. 

Unlike the previous layout, Facebook Timelines offer the possibility of creating a truly in-depth experience for visitors, with the purpose being to increase engagement. Early studies are already showing a big jump in engagement on Timeline pages when compared with the previous format. This change is an opportunity for businesses to express themselves, connect with their customers and increase the value Facebook provides. As with all social media there is a requirement to invest some time and energy, but the benefits of getting your Timeline right are certainly worth that effort.


2 people commented

  • 01
    May
    2012

    AmanSingh said...

    The whole strategy is really nice. I would like to know how we can develop useful apps for our own branded Facebook pages.

  • 02
    May
    2012

    Iain (Paligap) said...

    Aman, thanks for your comment. That's a great idea for a future blog!

    I think the first step would need to be conducting research into what others are doing and what users are finding worthwhile. One common use of apps will be for contests or promotion of particular services. With the removal of the ability to have all users presented with a particular tab on landing it will be necessary to have the app's specific URL presented to users at an appropriate moment.

    Iain (Paligap)

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