By now you’ve heard the news about Facebook Timeline for brand pages. You’ve probably read a few blog posts about the changes and have observed how all of the cool kids are using Timeline for their brands. I’m bringing you a big daddy post about Timeline, what you really need to know, and throwing in some resources that you may have missed.
Why the big deal?
As a client of Facebook, I have been super excited about the new Timeline changes. In fact, I was so excited that they invited me to their offices in Austin, TX while I was at SXSW. (Okay, so the invite came before Timeline was released, but still…and yes, I signed the “Wall!”) I couldn’t stop smiling while at their offices, chatting it up with Facebook product managers, engineers, sales and marketing folks, and others. All about the new Timeline possibilities. Oh, and I’m pretty sure that everyone on my floor at the office could hear me oohing and ahhing during Facebook’s first ever Facebook for Marketers Conference (fMC). Seriously, I love the new changes!
• The timeline allows brands to tell a much larger story about their brand through content, photos, videos, milestones, and more. Think of Facebook as the new history book.
• Increased interactivity with the brand drives desired ROI outcomes that are quite measurable.
• Paid media is more important now than ever within the Facebook platform, connecting the right content to the right target audience thru revamped Sponsored Stories and Ads.
Let’s take a look at the new features
Cover Photo: A unique image that represents your brand and page. The photo must be at least 399 pixels wide and may not contain:
• Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
• Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About Section
• References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
• Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”
All cover images are public and cannot be false, deceptive, or misleading.
Admin Panel: Streamlined, single panel allows immediate access to notifications, messages, new fans, administrator panel, & audience builder.
Restructured Tabs: Tabs used to be located in the left rail of Facebook. Now, tabs are featured just below the cover photo, bringing greater visibility to them. Only 4 tabs are visible by default. The order of the tabs can be adjusted by dragging and dropping. Placing the tabs directly below the cover photo and above the content allows visitors to visually connect with additional content that brands have made available through various tab elements, whether it’s a featured contest, trivia, about page, lead capture form, or other.
Default Tab/Landing Page: Default landing tabs/pages have been eliminated. (Thank you!) Rather, visitors are taken to the timeline view, from which they can navigate amongst tabs, view pinned and highlighted content, scroll down the “wall”, and sort content by highlighted stories, posts by the company, or posts by others fans and non-fans.
View Posts by Highlights, Posts by Page, Posts by Others, Friend Activity: Viewers of the page can sort timeline messages by highlighted stories (any post that has a minimum of 4 comments and/or likes can be made a highlighted post), posts by the page, posts by fans and non-fans, or friend activity. This allows admins to quickly sort between their messages and those of the community. It also allows visitors to see the latest news, or dig in to content based on pages, friends, or other community members.
Friend Activity Stream: When logged in on Facebook and visiting a Facebook page, a person can see how their friends have interacted with the brand recently. The Friend Activity stream shows comments, likes, posts, and any recent wall posts that they tagged the brand in. This is probably one of the coolest new features to the new Facebook pages! You can quickly see how friends are interacting with a brand, creating a true social experience.
Milestones: Brands now have the ability to backdate messages and add milestones to continue the new “story telling” approach to content delivery on Facebook pages. Milestones can include founding date, notable events, changes in leadership, special dates, etc. Milestones cannot be dated prior to 1800 – sorry, submarine manufacturers! (Introduced in 1776 by Yale University Graduate, David Bushnell)
Timeline: Along the right rail of a brand page is a list of recent months and past years. Visitors and admins of the brand page can quickly jump back in time to a specific month within a specific year. It’s like a time warp, or a time machine, only much cooler.
Messages: Fans and non-fans of a brand page can now quickly communicate with a brand via the messaging system. The new message feature replaces the former “inbox” messaging before it was taken away early 2011. This is a great feature to leverage for customer service. Assign someone to respond to the inbound messages quickly to get those extra brownie points for providing stellar customer service quickly!
Pin a Post: This feature, long available in most blogging platforms, allows a brand to “pin” a message to the top of the wall posts for 7 days. Regardless of more recent posts being shared, a pinned message will always be the first message visible at the top of the content, and always on the left. Pinning is most useful in promoting an upcoming event, a big announcement, trending topic, or static information about the company that you would want displayed at all times. Only one message/post can be pinned at any given moment.
Highlight a Post: In the new timeline layout, posts by brands and visitors are posted in order, tagging to a timeline. The actual posts are split down the middle of the page so that more messages are visible vertically. Highlighting a post will make the featured post take up the entire width of the page, making it stick out. This is especially useful if the brand has an important message that they want read by visitors, but don’t necessarily want to pin it, or something more important is already pinned.
Build Audience / Reach Generator: Reach Generator is something only available to pages with 500,000 or more fans. The purpose of the Reach Generator is to boost engagement on top of marketplace and premium advertising. It is expected that, with sponsored stories, approximately 16% of the audience at any given time will see content. Reach Generator will boost visibility to a guaranteed 75% or greater visibility. The Build Audience navigation tab provides access to Reach Generator (where enabled) and the advertising interface. Admins can quickly create sponsored stories, like campaigns, and lead gen ads directly through the Build Audience interface.
SPECIAL NOTE: Reach Generator is currently available to pages with 500,000 or more fans and currently running Facebook Premium ads. I know, boo!! But rest assured Facebook hears the feedback loud and clear!
Sponsored Stories & Mobile Advertising: Sponsored Stories and ads become a necessity as those messages are weighted higher in the edge rank algorithm and are the only stories displayed in “Top Stories” for personal profiles. Sponsored Stories now show in the news feed on personal profiles. All sponsored stories will display at the top of the news feed on Facebook mobile apps.
Activity Log: Provides a view of all posts and comments by fans and non-fans. Posts include the date, time, post, and a quick access panel to administer the post. The Activity log goes all the way back to the date a brands’ page was created. Using the timeline off to the right, or the “year” drop down box, a brand can quickly hop to any point in history to find a post(s).
During the facebook for Marketers Conference, Facebook announced different levels of admin functionality is in the works. This will allow brands to have super admins, content contributors only, and a whole host of other admin controls for multiple admins. Yeah!
Best Practices for your Brands’ New Digs on Facebook
• Use a cover photo that extends the image of the brand and tells a story
• Create a strategy for sponsored stories, targeting keywords, interests, and professions to ensure maximum reach of content
• This allows brands to connect content to targeted audiences, resulting in higher engagement
• Identify team members to manage inbound messages and other admin levels, so you can hit the ground running when the admin levels are released
• Incorporate photos, images, videos, polls/questions to maximize viability – this isn’t new, but it becomes more critical in the new algorithm
• Incorporate social apps! Brands that leverage social apps (and promote them using sponsored stories) will gain higher edge rank visibility and are likely to have social apps activity in the News Feed
• The social apps can have special verbs added to them, like:
“Christopher challenged friends to the Heart Health Trivia” instead stating that “Christopher liked Heart Health Trivia”
• The new verbs for social apps also allows to add custom images to the behaviors shared, resulting in higher visibility
Good Old Fashioned Resources and Continued Reading
Katie’s Bundlr about Facebook Timeline
(Shameless plug – includes articles about Facebook Timeline; updated regularly)
EdgeRank Checker (recently revamped! Fee-based)
Page Lever (fee-based)
Facebook News & Noteworthy:
Facebook announced interest’s lists – what it means for marketers
• Guides to our new products
• Best practices for organizational design and Page publishing
• An overview of our measurement offerings and Facebook Insights
• Videos of the fMC keynote & breakout sessions
• Videos of client success stories and new products
Looking for inspiration?
Visit www.facebook-successstories.com to get inspired by some of the most successful campaigns on Facebook.
Your turn to sound off, take the poll to tell us what you think about the new Facebook Page features!
What’s your favorite new feature? Why?
The most interesting answer posted by 5:00pm next Friday, March 30 will receive a special gift from me!