02 Mar 2012

What Facebook’s Timeline for Pages Means for Your Business

by Ninja Suzy

Facebook just recently announced that the new Timeline layout will be rolling out to all business pages on March 30. Pages can preview the new look now and publish their Timeline ahead of the formal launch. This switch, however, poses a lot of changes for marketers.

This is an amazing branding opportunity for big companies like Coca-Cola and Burberry, but what does this change mean for your business page?


Landing pages have been eliminated in favor of a cover photo

New Facebook cover photos
Business pages no longer have the option of directing users to a landing page or application on first visit – all users are immediately taken to the Timeline wall. This is bad news for marketers who were relying on a “fangated” landing page to provide incentive for new fans. Timeline offers what’s called a cover photo, which allows companies to show off their brand in a big way. A cover photo’s dimensions are 850×315, so companies are no longer restricted to the limitations of a profile picture. There are a few caveats, though. Cover photos for business pages must not include:

  • Any price or purchase information (like “35% off kitten shoes!”)
  • Contact information, including website addresses or email addresses
  • Reference to any Facebook elements, like “like” or “share”
  • Calls to action, like “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

Facebook seems to be trying to avoid cover photos becoming giant advertisements. It’s a great opportunity for branding, but becomes a challenge for marketers to promote their products and services.


Tabs have decreased visibility

Tabs have decreased visility
Where custom tabs used to be prominently positioned on the left-hand side of a Facebook page, now they are relegated to an above-the-fold position under the cover photo. There are only four spots for visible apps, one of which is permanently taken by Photos. Marketers will have to decide which apps to feature on the page and strategize about how to promote them. Timeline also allows each tab to be represented by a thumbnail.

The way apps are displayed within the fan page has changed, too. Apps now open up in the middle of the layout, and the width of apps has expanded from 520 pixels to 810. Developers will be happy to get a little more room to play with.


Companies can add important milestones to their Timelines

Manchester United historical photo
Brands can now add significant events to their Timeline, like the date the company was founded or when a product was launched. It’s a visually dramatic way to add a personal, human touch to a fan page, and it’s a great way to help users feel connected to a brand. One page who is doing a great job of incorporating milestones is English soccer team Manchester United. They’ve chronicled all the major events in the history of the team which provides an interactive scrapbook of the club’s background.


The future of “fangating” may be in jeopardy

Fangating Facebook users may go away
Since landing pages can no longer be utilized, the practice of “likegating” or “fangating” (limiting content only to users who are fans of the page) may become obsolete. For the moment, fangating does still work in Timelines… kind of. Only fans can see the restricted content, but not immediately after clicking that “Like” button. Previously, liking a page would automatically refresh the tab to see the hidden content, but now users must manually reload the page to see it. This could just be a glitch, or possibly a sign that Facebook won’t be supporting this feature in the future.


Businesses will be able to directly communicate with fans

Companies will have the ability to converse with users via private message, which is great for brands who want to keep personal issues or messages off the Timeline. This is a great way for brands to use Facebook as a customer service vehicle, since users tend to communicate their thoughts via social media.


Specific posts can be featured more prominently

Facebook allows specified posts to be more prominent in the timeline
Page admins will have the ability to “star” certain posts or milestones, which makes the post larger and span across both columns of the Timeline. Posts can also be made “sticky”, which means they will appear at the top of the wall. This is a boon to marketers who may want to promote a contest, sale, or special in a way they used to with a landing page.

Overall, the changes seem like a game-changer for marketers and developers. What do you think about the new changes? Drop us a line below and start a conversation!