A Comprehensive Guide to the New Facebook Timeline for Pages

Just as businesses were mastering Facebook Pages, Facebook pulled out the rug from underneath them and changed the game plan.

A Comprehensive Guide to the New Facebook Timeline for Pages

On March 30th, Facebook launched the new Timeline for Pages and no business was immune to the changes.

The new platform is a stark difference from the previous, and learning the ropes may require a little effort. Below is a comprehensive summary that highlights the major changes and how you need to adjust your marketing to run a successful Facebook campaign:

Cover Photo

The cover photo is one of the biggest changes to Pages. It is a large banner image that extends across the width of the page with a size of 851 x 315 px.

Though the cover photo should be a creative representation of your brand, Facebook prohibits owners from using it for advertising purposes.

According to Facebook, your cover image cannot show:

  • Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website.”
  • Contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section.
  • References to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features.
  • Calls-to-action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”
  • Covers must not be false, deceptive or misleading, and must not infringe on third parties’ intellectual property.

Some Page owners are pushing the limits and coming up with creative cover images that compel people to stay but do not overtly advertise:

Social Identities

instantShift - Social Identities
Social Identities

Notice how Social Identities used its profile photo in the corner to compel potential fans to click “Like.” According to Facebook’s terms, you cannot use the cover image for this, but it does not specify anything about the profile photo. Social Identities may be pushing the envelope here, but it is clever nonetheless.

Profile Photo

The profile photo sits in the left bottom corner of the cover image. It serves as your thumbnail image for status updates, sponsored stories, and ads. Facebook recommends a company logo for this space to further brand your Page. The profile photo is 180 x 180 px and it should be scalable to 32 x 32 px.

Update: As of April 26th, Facebook changed the size of the profile photo to appear as 160 x 160 px, the same size as the personal profile. Though the original size was 180 x 180 px, the image appeared as 125 x 125 px. Facebook still recommends uploading a 180 x 180 px image because it will automatically scale the photo. The changes will only affect those Page owners who incorporated the profile photo into the overall cover image design.

Applications

The tabs that were located under the profile picture in the old Facebook Page design are re-located to under the cover image along with “Photos” and “Likes”. The applications still function the same; however, their width has increased from 520 px to 760 px. Page owners can assign a custom thumbnail (111 x 74 px) to showcase the applications in a creative way or to draw attention to them.

Facebook allows 12 apps, but only displays four on the front page. Present your most important apps in the first three spots after Photos (you cannot move Photos). Users must click the small arrow to the right of the apps to see the others and chances are they will not do it.

instantShift - Coca Cola Apps
Coca Cola Apps

Death to the Default Welcome Page

The default welcome page was one of the top features of the original Business Page. Page owners could send non- fans to a page to coerce them to click “like” with compelling graphics and calls to action. With the new Timeline, Facebook removed the ability to set a default landing page for non-fans unless Page owners pay for advertisements.

How can you simulate the welcome page experience with the new Timeline?

  • Create custom thumbnails for your apps that stand out from the background and draw users to click on them. Use calls to action in the form of text for your images. (See example below)
  • Send people outside of Facebook to the url of your welcome page app. On your website and blog, direct people to the welcome page instead of the main Timeline Page.
  • “Pin” a post at the top of your timeline where fans will see it every time they land on your Page. (See Post section)

The welcome page application is still very much active; it just cannot be used as a default landing page unless you use Facebook ads. Draw attention to your welcome page and other apps with text-based, eye-catching custom thumbnails that include a call to action.

Here is an example of a Page owner calling attention to its apps with clever thumbnail images that attract fans to click.

instantShift - Social Stars Page
Social Stars

Posts

The Timeline is a step towards a more visual experience so the posting features have changed.

Here are the post options:

  • “Star” a post to expand it to the entire width of the timeline. Use this feature to add emphasis to popular images.
  • Change a post’s date – If you want to move a past post to make it more current, use the change date option.
  • “Pin” a post to feature it at the top of your Page. The post will remain featured up to seven days or until you remove it.
  • Add a milestone to chronicle important accomplishments like fan growth, awards or special events. Milestone posts will expand images to 843 x 403 px, the entire width of the timeline.

Direct Messages

Enable direct messaging to talk to your fans privately. You cannot message fans but they can message you. This is a great customer service feature and also helpful when clients/customers cannot reach you outside of Facebook. Fans will be more comfortable talking to you privately instead of on your public Page.

Admin Panel and Activity Log

The admin panel appears at the top of your Page and tracks all of your fans’ activity from one simple interface. Delete, star, or change the dates of your posts directly from the Activity Log.

instantShift - Admin Panel and Activity Log
Activity Log

This feature has not been rolled out yet; however, Facebook mentioned it at their latest conference. Page owners will be able to assign permissions to five different admin levels. This feature is helpful for Page owners who want others to manage their pages but do not want to give them access to every feature.

Facebook Paid Features

If you have a budget for Facebook advertising, you may be interested in the newest features for Pages.

  • Offers – This feature has been rolled out globally but it is not yet available to U.S. businesses. Facebook Offers allow businesses to share discounts or promotions to fans. Fans can opt to get the offer through their email or click on it directly from their newsfeed or on your Page. The offers are free to distribute, but Facebook recommends using ads or sponsored stories to extend the viewership.
  • Premium Advertisement Upgrades – For a price, Page owners can publish larger, more prominent ads in more strategic locations. Premium ads are seen by more people and include polls, events, larger images or video options.
  • Reach Generator – With Reach Generator, Page owners can reach a substantial number of fans with its content, up to 75%. Currently, only a percentage of your fans see your posted content in their news feeds. Greater interaction and sharing will increase this number.

Facebook Marketing

Learning how to maximize your marketing strategies is crucial to maintaining success with the new Timeline.

Because Facebook has changed the way fans view our Pages, we must change the way we manage our Pages in order to be effective.

The Timeline is centered on visual content, whether via videos or photos. And since visual content scores high on Facebook’s list, these posts tend to show up more than text posts in fans’ newsfeeds.

For web designers who run Facebook Pages, this change can work in your favor because your business is centered on visual elements.

Here are some ways to emphasize more visual content:

  • Post your best images – Web designers can post images of client designs or examples of graphic designs. Your audience will appreciate visual content because your industry is focused on visual stimulation.
  • Become more visual – If your industry is not visually-centered, create pictorial representations of helpful topics. Use infographics and charts that organize your written content into image form.
  • Star images – Use Facebook’s “star” feature to expand popular posts to the full width of your Timeline. This is a great opportunity to draw attention to your greatest content and include a call to action. For example, if you are a web designer, you can “star” an image of one of your top designs and include a blurb under it that says, “Like this design? We would love to create one for you!”
  • “Pin” Images – Highlight posts you want to feature for seven days. “Pin” promotions or visually appealing images to the top of your wall. “Pin” posts your fans love and those that receive the most interaction. Brands are using the “pin” feature for more advertising since the cover photo has so many restrictions.
  • Post Generously – According to Hubspot, posting only once a day may not work anymore. With the multitude of posts barraging your fans on a daily basis, by posting more than once, you have the opportunity to reach more people. Post a few times a day to once an hour if you have a large number of fans. Be careful not to overpost! Different audiences will respond differently so test the waters a little to find your posting “sweet spot.”

Don’t Neglect the About Section!

The new “About Us” section is located in a prominent position where most fans will see it. Create a clever, creative description of your business in as few words as possible. Or use this space as a subtle call to action prompting fans to check out your website. Don’t forget to include your website address.

The important point to remember is that the new Timeline is oriented more towards visual elements. Focus on what will appeal to your fans visually to gain more interaction and consequently grow your brand.

What is your opinion of the new Timeline? Do you love it or hate it?

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12 Comments

  1. Just an FYI, I work for a brand identity company as a graphic designer and I’ve been designing cover photos that are 1200×441 pixels because they fit perfectly without cutting anything at all off. The resolution doesn’t change either.

    Hope this helps somebody, lol.

    • Why did you choose that resolution?

  2. Really nice…

  3. Awesome!

  4. Well, I guess that this post can be much helpful for everyone who’d like to get success using such social network as Facebook

  5. As a web designer we often get Facebook pages as an additional bit of work to do. I really like how the ‘Social Stars’ timeline layout works with the profile image combined with the cover photo. Also thank you to Josh for providing the dimensions for the cover photo, I can see this being very helpful in the near future.

  6. Excellent article. Love to use facebook timeline feature which makes my profile more stronger and creative. Thanks for bringing this great advisable tips.

  7. Thanks for summing up all the options and parts of the new timeline layout. Design wise it looks a lot better than the old layout. Only complaint we hear from customers is the fact that you cant force customers in liking the page before giving them access.

  8. Awesome article.Thanks for sharing.

  9. The tutorial is really helpful.

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