Facebook Page Changes: What Brand Managers Need to Know

In support of Facebook’s goal of helping brands to tell their stories and engage consumers in those stories, Facebook has changed the layout for Brand Pages; these changes will take effect on  March 31 (or sooner if the brand chooses.) If you have an advertising campaign in market on March 31, all traffic will land on the new Timeline, rather than any custom tab or app that you might have created for your campaign, unless you adjust your media links to go directly to the URL for the application.

The new layout, called Timeline, will be the same for every page visitor: those who have already liked the brand and those who have not. A brand is not allowed to create any graphics for the page that are designed to emphasize “liking” the brand, encourage sharing, highlight any offers or prices, or provide contact information (i.e.: website or email address).

The Timeline is important, but the brand’s publishing strategy continues to be more important and deserves the most focus. Most consumers will experience the brand’s content through their own News Feed, not via the brand’s Timeline page or applications.

What you should do now (and what you shouldn’t):

  1. DON’T PANIC. Brands have the option of “publishing” the new Timeline anytime between now and March 31. Go to your page and choose “preview” to see how your brand page will look if you do nothing; you can make as many changes as you like before you publish the page (or it automatically publishes on March 31.)
  2. Pick a cover photo. Facebook has already selected one for you from your photo album; you may want to choose a new one.
  3. If you use apps, identify the 3 most important ones and move the thumbnail images for these apps into the tops spots below the cover page.
  4. If it is appropriate for your brand, identify four or five important milestones in the life of your brand, decide how you can illustrate those milestones, and develop associated text for each. You can add milestones to your brand’s timeline without posting the update to the news feed of your brand’s friends.

The Timeline’s important “above the fold” features:

  1. A large “cover photo” image
  2. Four buttons below the cover page image that link to brand tabs and/or applications; the brand can choose what shows up in 3 of 4 of these.  (The photos button is immovable.)
  3. Up to 8 additional applications can be made available to consumers via a drop-down button.

How these changes will affect the brand’s publishing strategy

In this new format, visual images will be much more important to a brand’s publishing strategy. Photos and videos are much larger in the new layout, so posts that are text only will get lost on the Timeline (but might still work very well in the News Feed of the brand’s friends, so don’t go overboard and  force the use of an image if you don’t have something appropriate.)

Despite its name, Timeline does not appear to be displaying posts in a strictly chronological order. Facebook has added a “pin” feature to allow you to pin a post to the top of the timeline for up to 7 days. You can also “star” a post to make the image double wide.

Helpful links for more information:

http://ads.ak.facebook.com/ads/FacebookAds/Pages_Product_Guide_022712.pdf

http://mashable.com/2012/03/01/facebook-timeline-brands-guide/

http://mashable.com/2012/02/29/facebook-brand-timelines-changes-marketing/

http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/29/how-to-use-timeline-for-pages/

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