Today is the day when everything Changed. 30th March 2012 marks the most significant change in social media for brands since we first started using the nascent platforms to engage with our customers. Every brand that is on Facebook as of today has to use the new Timeline design, has to think about new ways of creating content and must commit more time and bigger budgets to that content or else fall so far behind the competition there will be no catching up.
Wow! That was a bold statement and we stand by it, but there is no need to panic. The new Pages design should be seen for the great opportunity it is, and in this post we discuss the benefits of different features and how you can approach their use to maximise impact and minimise outlay.
The Cover and the Profile Picture
First piece of advice – use the Cover! We have seen several brands switch to Timeline before today and choose not to have a Cover image with the result that their Pages look anaemic. If you as a brand do not have image assets to call upon you can look to image asset libraries such as Corbis, or why not just get all your staff together for a photo and smile! You must remember though that Facebook Page Terms dictate you must not use this to promote or advertise, or for a call to action – such as ‘Like Us’ with a big arrow pointing down. The Profile Picture is easy; this is where you can put your company logo without having to worry about changing it over time like the old versions on old Page designs.
Apps and Pinned Posts
Timeline Apps are now more than ever the best way to drive Engagement on your Facebook Page. Whether you host competitions, sweepstakes or just games, you should use your post content and advertising to link directly to these rather than to your Facebook Page Timeline. You can still Like-Gate App content as well if you wish to, to drive up fan numbers, and when you design your App thumbnail make it a call to action. The new Pages design of course leaves no opportunity for Default Landing Tabs like ‘the old days’. The new Pinned Post feature is the next best thing and you should also use these to highlight your App content. Remember however that as they only appear for a week try to have a great visual that you change every time to keep the Pinned Posts fresh.
Highlighted Posts and Milestones
Highlighted Posts are a brilliant way of adding visual brilliance to your Timeline, and are great for anything that has an image. These should not be used for just text-based posts though, as they just look awful when stretched to double-width. As with the cover, if you are the sort of company that just does not have visual content then you need to think cleverly about how you can do this – and don’t just steal images from other websites!
Milestones are big part of the new Facebook Pages – Facebook itself talks about content in terms of stories, and what could be better than the story of your company? To make these work as well as they can though, take the time to give each one a great image. You may need to think laterally for this, and we recommend looking at other Page Timeline’s to find inspiration, just remember than you can make any picture interesting with the correct story around it.
So far we have covered the basics which should relieve your panic and get your Facebook Page looking great. Once you have these in place, depending on your resources there are some other things to consider. The first is Messages – in your settings (click Manage and Edit page at the top of your Admin Panel) you will find a tick box to turn these on and off. This enables the new Pages feature giving fans the opportunity to send you private messages, and is great for building relationships and dealing with customer service issues. However, if you do not think your company has the resource to answer every single message we recommended not enabling Messages. The expectation around these private attempts to interact will be much higher than publicly on your Page.
The final extra consideration is Open Graph and your website – Facebook allows you to link actions taken on your company website back to Facebook, reporting on those actions in the Ticker and Newsfeed. So, if you have this enabled and your customers place an order, that can come back to Facebook as a story such as “John Smith ordered an X from YourCompany”. This is close to the holy grail of social activity for brands – having (directly or indirectly) customers recommend you, rather than you recommending yourself.
You should be excited by the new Pages design – at last brands can tell their own stories in a way that drives engagement and maximises the benefits of that social media can bring. Now go play!
Appendix – Asset Size Checklist
Profile Picture = Width 180 pixels x Height 180 pixels
Cover = Width 851 pixels x Height 315 pixels
App Thumbnail = Width 111 pixels x 74 pixels
Normal/Pinned Post Image = ideal Width 404 pixels x Height 404 pixels
Highlighted Post/Milestone Image = ideal Width 843 pixels x Height 403 pixels (we have found though that images above 550 pixels in width tend to scale up to fill the post, while those of less than this sit in the middle of the post box with grey on either side).