The internet has been buzzing this week about company (fan) pages on Facebook switching to the timeline format.
So, you have built your company’s social media strategy based on how people find and share information using the old page format, but do you really need to change how you use Facebook just because the page looks different? Very simple answer….YES!
Whole New Layout
The first (and most obvious) note is that the whole layout of the page has changed. The top of the page is now occupied by your profile picture and a cover picture. Do not under-estimate the power of the cover photo. While you can use your company logo for your profile picture, I recommend using a unique photo that represents the company culture for the cover photo. This will help create more of a personal connection with customers.
The majority of the page is composed of two columns, which represent a passage of time for your company. My favorite feature of the timeline page layout is that you can mark posts as “Company Milestones” and create an interactive real-time timeline of your company’s history: from the day it was founded to today. The timeline of company milestones will also help your customers understand and relate to your company, by understanding where it came from and will be going in the future.
Goodbye Landing Pages
There is one feature that am not a big fan of (and it may take some getting used to), it is that you can no longer set a default landing page. Since the tab pages are gone, (the ones that used to be listed under the profile picture) you are not able to choose what content visitors see first when they go to your page. For example on McDonald’s page, (still in the old format) they could direct all visitors to the “Latest” page first. Where a new product would be featured, instead of to the default “wall” page. See example below:
In comparison, the Wendy’s new timeline page always features the top two messages. Because of this change, it will be more pertinent than ever to monitor what the top posts are, as they are the first thing visitors will see (other than the cover photo). See image below. There is a great feature that can help with this. It is the “pin”feature, which allows you to “pin” a post, or mark it is important, so that it will appear at the top of your timeline.
Pick Your Top Three
While you can not direct visitors to a particular landing page, the tab pages and application pages will still exist. But know that they will be more difficult access. As you can see above in the Wendy’s timeline, links to the tab pages (photos, likes, WendyThreads, Wear the beef) are now shown in between the cover photo and the timeline. But, instead of listing all the different pages, only the 4 pages can be featured at one time. Also, the photo link/feature can not be removed so you can only change out the other three items. It will be more important than ever to understand what your page visitors value most in order to promote the correct pages and apps.
Changing the Conversation
In the past, if a customer wanted to communicate with a company over Facebook they would have to leave a comment on a post (or post a message on the wall if it was allowed). But now, customers can send direct messages to a company.
I really like this feature because I don’t think everyone is always comfortable stating their opinion in a public arena (especially when their name is on it) and they often prefer more personal interactions with companies (aka one of the purposes of social media). I also like this feature because it may decrease possible negative comments from appearing on the public timeline.
What do you think?
This is a big change, which will take some navigating. It will be a learning time for marketers and companies alike. Please leave a comment below letting me know what you think about the new timeline format for company pages and what your favorite ones are so far. I personally really like the New York Times page (below). They use a great personal cover photo and their timeline goes all the way back to the 1850′s!!!