Navigating the New Company Facebook Timeline Pages

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:McDonalds Facebook Page

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.

Wendy's Facebook Page Timeline Format

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!!! New York Times Facebook Timeline Page

Social Media Marketing Trends

Sharing Content

Social media is constantly evolving and changing, including:

  • How individuals use the different platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc)
  • How companies communicate with customers
  • How to measure success and ROI
  • How much to invest into a social media strategy and implementation (what is the value of social media?)

The Social Media Examiner published a great article on how to prove the value of social media for your company based on new research studies. In the article, they breakdown the five newest social media marketing trends:

The Benefits Derived From Social Media are Increasing

The top benefits of social media from a marketing perspective are increased brand awareness and the ability to engage in dialogue directly with their customers. Also, the amount of small businesses using social media has been constantly increasing the last two years. I definitely expect the amount of companies using social media to continue to increase this year. So, if your company has not started to develop a social media strategy to implement, this would be the year to start.

More Businesses are Investing in Social Media

It is estimated that both small and medium sized business will at least double their budgets for social media in 2012. Based on this estimation, I would predict that there would be an even larger budget increase for large and global size companies, who are already seeing the benefits of social media.

Measuring ROI is One of the Top Challenges Face by Marketers

A concerning trend is that approximately half of marketers are not measuring their social marketing to determine its’ success. Simple ways to measure the success of your social media strategy are tracking

  • Twitter Followers
  • Tweets are Re-Tweeted
  • Facebook Likes Shares
  • Comments on Facebook posts
  • Blog post views and comments
  • YouTube video views
  • Re-pins on Pinterest

More advanced measurements that you could calculate are lead generation and sales directed from social media, but this will require specific goals set implementing strategy.

Marketing Agencies View the Value of Social Media Differently

I am not surprised that research shows that blogs have the best benefit for increasing search results, especially when social sharing buttons are included. The more shares of an article the higher up it will appear in search results. Also, blog posts increase the amount of content on your website (the amount of content that search engines will crawl) so this will greatly benefit your rankings.

An Integrated Social Media Plan Leads to Greater Financial Results

In 2012, I hope to see more companies begin to fully integrate social media into their business process. Many companies are just beginning to use and understand social media, so it often falls into this “side project” category. In order for a social media strategy to be successful in increasing conversations, brand awareness, and financial goals, then social media must be fully integrated into a company’s marketing efforts.

It is going to be very interesting to see how these trends play out in 2012. Check out the full article and all the infographics here: 5 Social Media Marketing Trends: New Research | Social Media Examiner.

Image: Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net