Prepare Yourself for the Big Changes Coming to Facebook
During the Facebook Marketing Conference (fMC) the other day, Facebook announced big changes that are being rolled out to fan pages. Suffice to say, with these updates, page owners and fans won't be browsing the site the same way again.
Here's the rundown of all the changes:
Timeline for Pages
Tech and social media pundits have long expected the arrival of the Timeline for Facebook Pages, and that day has finally arrived. Page owners can now take advantage of the image-heavy features of the Timeline including the huge image boxes and of course, the cover photo. Similar to the Timeline for the personal profiles, page admins can now add a cover photo at the top their page. You can use an existing image or upload a new one. Do take note that Facebook enforces some guidelines regarding the cover image. Page owners are NOT allowed to add contact information (such as web address, email, etc), calls to action, and price or purchase information, such as "40% off" or "Download it at our website".
Page Apps, which were originally located at the left hand side of the page, have been moved to the upper part of the page at the bottom of the cover photo and just right of the about section. The apps appear as boxes instead of text links, and can be rearranged to your liking. TC notes that “There are four app tiles above the fold, and the first is permanently occupied by Photos. The rest can include Likes, Videos, Events, Map and a Page's custom apps.”
Page admins can now take conversations out of Facebook's public wall thanks to private messaging. Perfect for addressing customer service concerns and questions, the new messaging system allows users to privately communicate with a page. Do note that pages cannot initiate these private conversations; they can only respond to messages that were sent to them first.
Pins and Highlights
Tired of content getting bumped down by other posts? With the new Pages, you now have the capability to pin posts to the top of the page. Pinning is a great way to ensure that a specific post will always be one of the first things that people see when they visit your page. For instance, if you're running a certain promotion, you can simply pin it to the top of your page instead of re-posting it time and time again. As TechCrunch put it, “The feature gives you significant control what visitors to a Page see first. Be sure to at least keep a link to your website pinned at all times, and rotate it with links to your apps and whatever else you want to drive the most traffic to or impressions of.”
Draw more attention to a specific link, article, or photo by clicking the star icon beside the post to highlight it on your page. This will make it wider and take up more space on your Timeline, allowing users to easily see the post. Conversely, you can also hide or delete a post entirely by clicking the pencil icon.
Pages can also emphasize certain company events and landmarks by adding “milestones” to their Timeline. Milestones can include the birth of your company, offering a new product, or a particular award or distinction. Milestones will also take up more real estate on the Timeline, just like highlighted stories.
Revamped Admin Panel
Along with Facebook's redesign, the admin panel for page admins also saw a makeover. The new panel now displays an overview of all recent page activities including new likes, notifications, insights, and messages… all in one convenient place.
The Death of Default Landing Tabs
In spite of the shiny new features of the Timeline for pages, the update did kill a valuable feature: Landing Pages. As TechCrunch pointed out, “Pages can no longer display one of their custom applications as their default landing tab that non-fans first see when they visit.” Needless to say this is a huge bane for marketers, because “Without default landing tabs, non-fans have to actively click through the little app tiles overshadowed by a Page's cover. Many won't, and it will cost marketers Likes as well as email signups, contest entries, and other key performance indicators.”
Here to Stay
Love it or hate it, the new Timeline for pages is clearly here to stay. Like what Facebook did for individual users, page admins will also get a “curation period” until March 30th, 2012 where only administrators will be able to see the Timeline. This should give you enough time to get used to it and decide on what to add and highlight on the page. The new layout will go live for everyone at the above-mentioned date, so be sure to finish all the tweaks and updates before then.