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The Timeline’s Gonna Get You — Better Face Up To It

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If you previously set up a spot for your business on Facebook, you likely know that at the end of this month the format for all business-related pages will be changed to the new “timeline” setup. The timeline has been applied to personal pages for a number of months now, to decidedly mixed reviews. Whether you like or unlike (pun intended) the new timeline format, Facebook will not be letting you choose to stick with the old setup; therefore, business owners need to prepare for the changes and consider opting into the new system even before the March 31st automatic switchover.

What does the switch to the timeline format mean for business pages on Facebook? Strategies will need to adjusted, and new and different content may have to be considered. To get you started, here are five of the most significant changes that timeline will bring for businesses:

1.  Top Image on Facebook page – The opening page for your Facebook account will now have a large, 851 x 399 pixel image at the top. This provides an opportunity to add visual interest, but there are restrictions on what you can and cannot have in that image. Chief among these is a ban on “salesy” information, such as discount stickers, purchase info, contact details, and calls to action (e.g., buy it now, tell your colleagues). You also cannot include references to “like” or “share” and other Facebook action items on the image. Don’t neglect to ensure you have permission and copyright for any images you use. Also, logos will now be limited to 180×180 pixels square.

2.  Custom Pages – Formerly located along the left side, the listing of “pages” and applications will now be located under the cover image, and will be limited in number to four. You can have a maximum of 12 of these, and change them as you like, but only four will show at a time. Users can see the rest by clicking on the arrow to the right of the four that are showing. You can no longer choose one of these tabs or apps to be your default landing page.

3.  Private Responses – One nice improvement as far as businesses are concerned is the ability to respond privately under your brand persona to a direct message. If someone asks you a question, you can now reply to them without having the answer appear for all to see. This can be useful for customer service issues in particular.

4.  Pinned Items – You will be able to keep a post at the top of your page by “pinning” it. The maximum time it will stay in that position is seven days, however, before it will move to its place in the timeline.

5.  Milestones – Because of the “timeline” motif, you can add background history of the accomplishments of your business easily and quickly via the Milestone feature. Photos can be included to mark the founding of your company and major events (with some narrative). Milestones can be hidden from the news feed, but adding some items here will help give context to your business and a sense of longevity (even if you are fairly new on the scene).

To get you thinking about the possibilities, here are a couple of brands that have already taken the timeline plunge. And, yes, I am in need of a little surge in energy here today :)

Example No. 1 — Red Bull

Example No. 2 — Coca-Cola

 

About the Author

Frances Krug has worked in market research since graduating from UCLA with an MA and CPhil in Latin American history. As an editor and online content provider for the last 7 years, she currently is Associate Editor at iNET Interactive, where she also directs Search Marketing Standard's email marketing program.

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  1. Private messages with brands can change the Facebook marketing experience. Not everybody wants to post something publicly on a brand page. Now that they have this option, they may be more likely to interact. That's why it's important to have the customer service team on board.