The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Timelines for Pages

And just like that, Facebook have rolled out another huge overhaul to their platform. As many of you would already be aware, Facebook timelines have now been rolled out to business pages as an opt-in feature but will be mandatory for all pages as of March 30th.

So what does this mean for your page?

Below we’ve outlined a few of the more major updates and changes along with some of our recommendations to help you address each of these before Facebook hit the big green ‘on’ switch at the end of the month.

Note: If you are an admin of your page, you can preview your page changes up until March 30th and, if your happy with your updates, you can publish them prior to the rollover date.

Cover Images and Profile Pictures

As has been the case with personal profile pages, brands can now also join in on all of the cover image fun!

If you haven’t seen a Facebook cover image before, here is a cracker that will surely get your creative juices flowing:


This example shows how businesses can utilise their new cover image space to implement unique and creative branding strategies at the top of their Facebook timeline.

Our Hints and Recommendations

  • First of all, for your cover image use the native dimensions of 851px by 315px for best results.
  • For your profile picture, use the dimensions 180px by 180px and ensure this will still look good as a thumbnail for your posts.
  • Get creative with your image and profile picture and think outside the canvas 😉
  • Ensure your cover image and profile picture work cohesively together.
  • Remember to follow Facebook’s (strict) cover image guidelines! You may not include:
  1. Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
  2. Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s ‘About’ section.
  3. References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features.
  4. Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

Application Icon Changes and Application Position Changes

One of the first questions that will be popping into many marketers and business owner’s minds will be “…but what’s going to happen to my apps?”

First things first, let’s start with your app positions and icons and then we’ll move onto the apps themselves.

If you scroll back up to the Livestrong example, you’ll see that under the cover image there are four extra images visible. These are your apps.

There are two things you need to know about this app repositioning:

  1. As the ‘photos’ app is immovable, you really only have space for three featured apps on your page. The rest of your apps can be accessed via a drop down function to the right of the last featured app.
  2. The apps utilise larger icon images with the dimensions of 111px by 74px.

Our Hints and Recommendations

  • Make sure that you devise a creative strategy to integrate your app icons with the look and feel of your cover image and profile picture. If this is too much of a brain fry, at least upload some attractive images to represent your apps and to keep your business timeline page looking clean and tidy.
  • Although Facebook says you cannot include a call to action on your cover image, they have not yet ruled out the option to include a call to action on your app icon images.
  • Choose your three featured apps wisely as it is likely that these will gain the most organic click through traffic. Ensure you have analytics installed on your apps to determine which is currently engaging your users the most.

 -Intermission-

 

Now, if you’ve at least completed the tasks above you can safely get to March 30th knowing that that at least your timeline page will be up to date, looking nice and spiffy. Phew!

However, if you’d really like to hit your customers between the eyes with a fully fledged timeline integration and app optimised business page, read on!

Timeline and Milestones

Again, just like with your personal timeline, brands can now upload all of the historical content relating to their brand. Coke have (as they always do with new marketing platforms) executed this extremely well.

The giant cola company has invested some real thought into their timeline and have combined imagery from their bountiful archives with an integrated design theme in order to create a truly engaging historical account of their brand:

Brands can also add milestones to pin-point significant moments in history for the brand. These milestones once again will allow you to get your creative cogs spinning as they allow for a larger than normal image size to celebrate the occasion:

Our Hints and Recommendations

  • Go through the history of your brand and add as much of it as you can to your timeline in order to create a more engaging user experience for your audience
  • Try to have an integrated design theme for all of your timeline content and make each piece of history interesting for your users.
  • For best results, design your milestone images to 843px by 403px.

Application Width Changes

I mentioned earlier how applications would be affected by timelines didn’t I? Well hold on to your seat. This is going to be one of the biggest changes to your business page.

Previously, Facebook in-page iframes (applications) were limited to 520px in width. This was the maximum app space businesses had to play with and generally resulted in long, narrow facebook apps. Now however, with the rollout of timelines, the new width for applications is 810px wide!

What does this mean?

  1. Unfortunately, your old apps will be centered smack in the middle of the new app canvas with a bunch of white space on either side.
  2. On the bright side however, you have much more space to work with when developing new apps for your page. You no longer have to squeeze everything into that darn 520px!

Our Hints and Recommendations

  • With this huge increase in canvas space, we’re licking our lips at the new creative opportunities this expansion will enable for our clients and you should be too. We are all starting fresh here so it could even be YOU who creates the next big Facebook app that everybody is talking about!
  • If you have already invested a bunch of money into your current app suite, don’t fret, there are plenty of ways to integrate your old app functionality into a new design. Just ask your design team or agency to get creative and come up with a workable solution.
  • If you are keen to start fresh, start thinking of featured app ideas that will really intrigue and attract your audience. Then, go ahead and develop them while utilising the 810px of space in the most creative and engaging way.
  • There appears to be a compulsory white border around the edges of the new app canvas so just note that your design will not be able to go to the edge of the app.
  • With the compulsory borders, it appears that, the actual space you have to work is actually 779px.
  • Users can add their favourite apps to their own timelines now so try to make sure your app is ‘sticky’ enough to be used on more than one occasion. We envisage that page apps will begin to function more like reusable smart phone apps. The price however will be a ‘like’ as opposed to 99 cents!

Default Welcome Pages Changes

Previously, best practise for a Facebook business page was to ensure you were welcoming your fans via a default landing page tab. As the new Facebook changes don’t allow for a default landing page tab, your ‘welcome’ page may become somewhat obsolete. This reinforces our position that app strategy will become more focused on creating unique, content moments between you and your Facebook community.

Our Hints and Recommendations

  • Don’t worry if you still have a ‘welcome’ page, you can still direct advertising traffic to your apps!
  • Consider developing featured apps with a more unique and focussed purpose.

Pinning

Facebook have also rolled out a new ‘pinning’ feature to be available for updates made by your brand. What is pinning you ask? Pinning is a tool that allows you to ‘pin’ status updates to the top of your page for up to seven days so that it is the first piece of page engagement that a visitor sees. We also assume it will therefore become your default sponsored story ad copy. Very cool.

Our Hints and Recommendations

  • Use pinning to push traffic to your promotions or apps for seven days after launch.
  • Be sure to include pinable content into your social media content schedule.

Fan Gating and Advertising Changes

As mentioned above, I assure you, advertisers are still able to direct Facebook advertising to their specific page apps. Further to this, fan-gating is still allowed. Therefore, some tried and tested community building strategies will still be applicable. However, there will also be some very exciting advertising changes coming your way.

Facebook are looking to add advertising to sit within user’s desktop and mobile Facebook news feeds, allowing your brand’s content to be ‘sandwiched’ between their friends status updates and activity. With over 350 million people using Facebook on their mobile, this initiative will increase your potential audience significantly.

On top of this, the new ‘reach generator’ advertising solution appears to allow advertisers to dodge any EdgeRank issues and reach up to 75% of their audience through paid status updates. As most pages are currently only reaching approximately 16% of their user base, this is definitely a tool that will be making most marketer’s eyebrows rise a few inches!

There are a slew of other exciting advertising improvements and additions but that’s for another blog post….

Our Hints and Recommendations

  • Keep using fan gates, just be sure to utilise the new app width you have to work with
  • Keep sending ads to your apps.
  • Look into some of the new advertising options for yourself. You will be impressed I guarantee it!

Send Your Audience Messages

Finally! Brands can now send direct messages to fans. This will help with your social media response strategy as brands can now respond to disgruntled users or private matters through a personal message. This will help to move any conflict out of the public eye or discuss sensitive matters without having to move to phone or email communication.

Furthermore, for businesses that have ever had to remove a post due to page guideline breaches, this feature will allow admins to proactively inform the offending user.

Final thoughts

There’s definitely a lot to take in here and it can all seem a bit overwhelming. Our advice is to just start making the relevant aesthetic changes in small chunks in the lead up to March 30th in order to ensure your page looks visually pleasing when the rollover occurs. However, if you need some assistance or would like to implement a full transition strategy, contact Reload Media about one of our Facebook Timeline rollover packages today.

Paul Goldston

Digital Creative Director

As Digital Creative Director at Reload Media, Paul looks after digital campaign ideation, product diversification, Reload Media's marketing activity, internal education and basically everything and anything digital. Coming from a background in performance marketing (as Reload's very first full-time PPC consultant back in 2009), Paul confidently balances high-level creative thinking with data-driven campaign performance. Paul is, in his words “obsessed with providing market leading customer service and helping our internal teams to deliver genuine business impact for all of Reload Media’s clients”.