What Facebook Timeline For Brand Pages Means for Marketers

I suspected it would be coming soon and earlier today Facebook finally introduced its Timeline profile format for brand pages at a marketer’s conference in New York. The news comes just 5 months after the leading social network began rolling Timeline out to consumers in September 2011.

Many marketers including myself will be a little frustrated about this but, hey- ho social media requires an evolutionary approach and savvy marketers will be quick to spot the opportunities in this.

Think of the drawbacks on the current approach. You can’t emphasize content on the wall unless you constantly update your feed. Even with bespoke apps, tabs and landing pages these will only be displayed to users when they first visit a page or if directed by an ad. And the menu tab on the left is hardly the most prominent thing is it!? Repeating visitors to an existing page will always land on the wall and there is currently a lacking in how a brand marketer can emphasize content.

The new proposal will allow brand marketers to ‘pin’ campaigns or stories to the top of their page and fix these for a period of seven days, or “star” posts to expand their appearance to widescreen to make them more prominent. This could be used to carve out specific milestones – a first sale, a major acquisition or debut of a new product.

The new layout also lends itself well to brand story-telling, we are moving towards the humanisation of business and brands are no longer static companies. Brands are personalities with emotions, colour and passion. The new Facebook timeline allows brand marketers to cleverly present a brand story on its page. For example Manchester United‘s timeline points to its rich history, with the first entry dating back to 1878 (Mashable). What I will say though is that as a passionate B2B marketer I have my concerns about how well this might work for B2B brands although I can see the immediate gain for the B2C users.

Here is my quick low-down on how the changes might impact your marketing campaigns and tips on how you can leverage the redesign for better fan engagement and activity!

Firstly – timings!

Facebook has announced that all campaigns/pages will transition across at the end of March/April but for those who want to you can opt in now.  My advice would be to not opt in yet, but instead start planning your new activity for April!

Visibility of apps

Your apps will now have greater visibility – appearing in the Views and Apps area at the top of your page, rather than the Tabs menu area that appears on the left side today. Four are shown by default  but users can see additional ones by clicking the drop-down arrow. You should be able to decide which tabs are shown by default. (check out Manchester United’s page – nice illustration of all this )

Size of apps

App images are now much larger, and you can upload any image you choose for your app via the Timeline admin area of your page. This is a good thing as there is improved capability to showcase your brand imagery directly on the profile without needing to have a fan-gating landing page. Apps themselves will now have wider dimensions too – about 800 pixels (previously limited to 520px) so you’ll need to resize your aps and designs, or if you use apps like Wildfire, ShortStack, North social etc they will probably have taken care of the resize issue for you!

Prioritising content 

Prioritising campaigns has changed. The current Facebook page allows us to set default landing tabs for example when someone first visits a page. This is being removed. Instead you will be able to ‘pin’ a campaign/story to the top of your timeline thus making it more prominent to visitors and users of your page. This will be visible to both fans and non fans. But don’t worry you’ll still be able to drive users and fans to apps/pages via Facebook ads  or external means as these will still have unique urls within your page.

Fan-gating should still exist on new pages (this is where you display different info to fans and non fans) however the position of the ‘Like’ button is moving, so those of you who have a non-fan tab or image that uses a strategic arrow (as do a few of my clients!) this will need altering!

I have also heard a rumour that there is also a bug in Facebook, right now, when a non-fan “likes” you, they need to refresh their browser to view your campaign. Facebook will be fixing this (not sure if they have already) but if not, for now, you can update your creative with instructions for non-fans to refresh after they ”like” your page.

New Design

The visual branding opportunities are massive and illustrated by the ‘cover photo’. The cover photo is essentially a  giant banner that  can be used to convey what your brand is all about. My tip is use it to tell a story, the same way in which you might use a cover photo on a personal photo – think personality rather than business. Remember it cannot contain explicit calls to action or Facebook features!

For more information about updating the cover photo – Vectorash has dedicated a whole post to this issue, find it here.

Improved Admin

Also expect to see improved admin features, better access to Facebook insights and also the ability for fan’s to direct message you.