Get the most out of Facebook Timeline for your business
Well, it's official. Facebook business pages will be automatically converted to the brand new Timeline format as of March 30th, 2012. This represents a pretty serious functional and aesthetic overhaul, and if you're asking yourself "What on Earth is a timeline?" then you might think now would a good time to start panicking.
So, to help ease the pain, we thought we would come up with a handy guide to the changes, and highlight the areas of opportunity that savvy social gurus like ourselves will be using to get the most out of it for our clients.
1. That massive banner
Timeline is essentially a replacement for your current wall page, and the most obvious change is that instead of that pokey little image hidden away at the top left, you now have a vast, yawning billboard right across the top of the screen called the 'cover image.'
This is the main focal point of the page and where you'll make your first impression to visitors, so it pays to be creative. Make it fun, original and deliver a clear brand message. The following examples have all used the Timeline cover image in an interesting way.
2. Your Profile Picture
Of the early adopters of Timeline, the overwhelming majority have opted to use their logo or a recognisable product as the profile picture, which is a pretty safe bet considering this is the image that appears beside all of your posts throughout Facebook.
Some others though, have been thinking outside the box (literally) by using their profile picture as an extension of the cover image. This works well, if simply because the Timeline format is so new, meaning inventive use of this area is bound to stand out.
3. The New Menu
Facebook has also decided to scrap the old left hand menu in favour of a new, more prominent image based one. This menu links to your other pages and apps and gives you the ability to provide a large amount of varied content. Four links are displayed by default, but the menu can be expanded to show all of your sub-pages.
So, you can finally ditch those fiddly, oft-ignored tiny icons in favour of creating new, engaging and attention grabbing links to encourage users to explore the content.
4. Sub-Page Layouts
Perhaps the best revision Facebook made was to re-jig the layout of sub-pages, meaning you now have a whopping 750px to play with (depending on your browser width) compared to the old 500px format. This means you would be best served to have your old pages redesigned to capitalise on the new space allowance.
Have a look at Red Bull's latest app and you'll realise Facebook's new layout is allowing you to create something much closer to a stand-alone web site with hundreds of millions of users hovering around it.
5. The Timeline Menu
The Timeline acts as a kind of archive menu allowing users to reach posts from a certain month or year. This works especially well for businesses as it's a great way to highlight the main events in the history of your company, right back to the day it was founded.
For those companies who've been around for quite a bit, filling out your Timeline with old photos, adverts, newspaper headlines etc can make for a very genuine, nostalgic brand experience. Timeline is also clever enough to include posts that relate to the visitors' connection with the brand, such as mentions of the brand name, tagged photos and conversations.
6. The Timeline
Posts to your Timeline work pretty much like they did on your wall, and consist mostly of user generated content, your own updates, friend activity and company milestones. With Timeline though, you can pin those posts you really don't want to disappear off into obscurity to the top of the page. This gives you more control over the initial content your visitors see, and is a great opportunity to run a campaign or just deliver really valuable content for sharing.
Here are some cool examples: