As we reported late last week, Facebook Timeline has been released into open beta for Facebook Pages. You can see a preview and set up your page before publishing it, or wait until March 31 when all Pages will be moved across.

Here’s the top 10 things that are important to think about.

  1. Cover photos
    Just like on personal Timelines, Pages now have a large ‘cover photo’ at the top of the Page. This is a great opportunity to represent your brand visually. Worth noting is that you aren’t allowed to use it for direct marketing, with Facebook advisingthat Cover Photos cannot have:

    • 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”

    Certainly a bit disappointing, since we’d like to see it being used to provide a bit more information, but it instead provides you with an opportunity to start building your brand’s personality from step 1.

  2. Landing pages are a thing of the past
    You can no longer set a default ‘tab’ for users to land on when they first visit your Page. So having a landing tab that has an overview of the brand along with a call to action to ‘Like’ the Page, is no longer a realistic way of encouraging users to connect. You can see our (old) landing page below:

    No doubt it’s a bit of a loss there, and many from the Facebook Page 101 crowd are a bit upset about it, since you could offer discounts or coupons for ‘Liking’ the page to those visiting.
  3. Pinned posts
    Instead of landing pages, you now have the option to ‘Pin to top’ individual posts. This means that the particular update will remain at the top of the Page’s feed for 7 days. It’s a way of encouraging Page administrators to promote content that is both timely and relevant to their users. These posts should be how you want to communicate your brand: what do you want to say to people? Don’t always think about pushing messages about your latest event or article, but  also things that users will find funny, interesting and/or engaging. The post will appear at the top of the feed with a little pin symbol:
    So get thinking about what you might want to feature!
  4. Highlighted content
    As well as pinning content to the top, you can now ‘Highlight’ posts along the Timeline. This means that they will appear full-width rather than running along the sides of the Page. Similar to pinning, this should be the posts you consider most important or interesting. Posts with images or videos will look the best since they will be expanded:
    You can go back through your history while your Timeline Page is private and highlight the posts you want before publishing the Page.
  5. Messaging
    You can now enable in your Page Settings the messaging feature, that allows users to send the Page messages, somewhat akin to email. It’s not as instantaneous like Chat, but provides an avenue to allow users to contact your privately. This might be for the purposes of providing customer support, generating business leads to get in touch or any other form of messaging. For some brands, this won’t be a useful feature – sometimes it’s preferred to encourage users to call you or use email instead – whether that’s because of potential risk issues or resourcing problems.
  6. Tag moderation
    You can now set the default option for Posts on the Page or Page Mentions to require moderation by an administrator before they are posted to the Timeline.
    It’s a pretty useful feature, particularly for brands that are worried about users posting content. But keep in mind – taking too long to moderate posts will just annoy users…so only use it if absolutely necessary! As you can see above, the posts appear in the ‘Activity Log’ where you are able to allow the posts for other users to see. You visit the Activity Log through the “Manage” menu in the new Admin panel (below).
  7.  Milestones
    You can now add milestones to your Timeline, with important events from your history.
    They look absolutely great with photos,  like the Burberry example below:

    Additionally, you can change the dates of posts/status updates, so you can now post great historical photos as status updates (right back before Facebook was around!). Check out the one below (also from Burberry):
  8. Admin panel
    The final new feature is the Admin Panel,  which centralises the information about the Page, including Insights, notifications, messages and ‘Tips’:
    Up in the “Manage” and “Build Audience” menus are options allowing you to do things like invite people to Like your page, view the Activity Log or view the Page settings.
  9. Real-time insights
    Facebook has always had a lag in posting Insights (analytics) about your page. But from March 31 you will have access to real-time statistics about your posts, reach and ‘talking about this’ measures through the Insights dashboard. This is a great feature, but will be of most use to big pages who want to measure the instant impact of particular posts or advertising campaigns
  10. Viewing others’ Insights
    Thanks to the new ‘Likes’ page (accessed through clicking on the number of likes ‘menu option’ on a Page), you can now see the basic Insights (in a historical sense) of other brands. For example, have a look at Coke’s below.
    It’s now a great way to see firstly the main audiences of Pages, but also check out the impact of particular campaigns or key periods in the last month of the Page’s history. In the Coke example above, the peak is February 5 (mouse over to see the date) – which is when Coke aired their commercial during the Superbowl in the US, which was voted by some as the best ad that was aired. It’s a great feature for people looking to benchmark their campaigns against competitors’.

As you can see, Facebook Timeline will mean big changes to the network and how you manage a Facebook Page. One of the things that will keep us busy in coming weeks is training people to use the new features most effectively – since it is rolled out on March 31, it’s time for all administrators to get learning!

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