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Facebook Timeline: implications for Marketers

All Facebook fanpages will default to timeline on March 30, make sure your brand page is optimised for Timeline by following the guidelines below. Of particular note is the addition of ‘Pinned posts’ – which will keep your most important stories at the top of a timeline page for up to seven days. Another new feature is the new administration panel which makes it much easier for page admins to track their performance and to respond to private messages from people. Welcome pages will no longer be possible in the traditional sense, though like-gates will still be doable on apps, instead Facebook allows brands to tell richer stories through bigger photos and milestones that can include a date and other content. Tiffany tell their brand story very nicely using this feature – www.facebook.com/Tiffany.

 

Here is a reference guide to ensure you are getting the best out of Timeline:

 

1. Starting out:

  • Visit Timeline for Pages preview manager to add Timeline to your Pages. You can set a test period where only your Page’s admins can see timeline.
  • Take a tour of the features detailed to familiarise yourself with Timeline. On March 30th, 2012, Timeline will automatically become publicly visible for all of your Pages.

 

2. Cover Photos

  • Cover photos offer a great opportunity for brands to visually tell their story via a 851 x 315px Cover Photo right at the top of your page.  You can change your cover photo regularly based on your current campaigns or brand positioning.
  • The page avatar (180×180 px) should still feature your brand logo (scales to 30 x 30 px)
  • Restrictions, according to Facebook’s T&C’s, Cover Photos may not feature:

- Price/purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”.
- Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section.
- References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features.
- Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”.

 

3. Location of App Tabs: 

Apps are now featured below the Cover Photo to the right hand side. This is how your former ‘tabs’ on the left hand side of your page are now being displayed. Brands have three much larger opportunities (the Photos app is fixed) to promote your featured custom apps. A drop down menu allows you to feature another 12 apps.

  • App images are now 111×74 pixels instead of the 16×16 pixel icons used previously used. Page admins can now customise these app images directly through Facebook. So, it is important to run FEATURE apps. NEW users will be able to better find apps via the app menu, while current fans will still find custom apps through the newsfeed, friend invites, and other custom links such as via email.
  • Highlighted and Pinned posts gives brands even more flexibility to promoting custom apps. Slide 3 shows how Tiffany have ‘Pinned’ a post to the top left of their timeline promoting a story, the same can be done to promote a new custom app.
  • This is where your old fan gate or landing page application will now live, making it obsolete as a way of converting new visitors into fans because it won’t be the first thing that’s seen when you land on a timeline. There’s no longer an option in the admin settings to select a landing page, your timeline is your permanent landing page. The cover photo will have to serve as somewhat of a fan gate to the extent that the site’s rules allow. You can still put a real fan gate on your other applications and content. Encourage users to like your timeline before they can access the sought apps or content. We highly recommend this.

 

4. 810px wide canvas page for Apps: 

App landing pages are now 810px wide, giving you more freedom with design for your custom apps. Facebook has also embedded a link back to a page’s Timeline in the top left corner of the app.  Like Gates remain an extremely important feature on custom apps to drive new likes and acquire new fans. The 810px wide app page replaces the former steps of using the 520px tab view of campaigns, and the 960px wide canvas view of campaigns.

 

5. Control over what a fan sees on your timeline:

Timeline effectively replaces the ‘Wall’ but gives fans much more control over how posts are visually presented, and also which posts you want to promote to fans.
Feature only the best updates/apps on your timeline. You can ‘hide’ minor posts or negative fan comments, delete posts, ‘Pin’ important posts to the top of your Timeline.

 

6. Messaging for Timeline a lot more visually focused:

  • There is now less emphasis on a text based wall, with brands instead choosing much larger visual based posts to highlight on Timeline. Posts images can be full or half width. This allows you to promote your feature apps in a much more effective fashion on Timeline. Brands can create full width (843 px wide) ‘Highlighted Posts’.
  • Pinned posts: Pin favourite or feature posts to the top left of Timeline for 7 days at a time. Perfect for promoting your custom apps.
  • Highlight posts: Highlight posts in a double width feature on Timeline. This is another great opportunity to promote custom apps or positive fan posts and endorsements.

 

7. Composing Milestone Stories: 

In addition to traditional status, photo, video, and question updates, you can select to publish special Milestone stories, such as your founding date, and other big accomplishments like new product launches, landmark advertising campaigns, or hitting a notable number of customers. Some brands are taking a tongue in cheek approach to these milestones to create an engaging semi-fictional history to represent the brands identity in a fun way. These updates are likely favoured by the EdgeRank news feed visibility algorithm, and may receive more impressions in the news feed and more prominence on Timeline than standard posts. Milestones appear full-width on your Page with a special flag icon on top.  Dimensions for milestone photos are 843 x 403 pixels.

 

8. One to one messaging:

The new brand pages also have a feature that allows fans to send a personal message to the brand. This provides another feedback loop for brands to communicate with their fans and a welcome addition for both customer service and marketing personnel. Facebook will continue to evolve as a central communication platform for many forward thinking companies because of these changes.

 

Summary:

  • Choose a beautiful cover photo
  • Feature your most important apps
  • Adapt your designs to the wider 810px App landing page
  • Pin or Highlight the post you want to drive the most traffic to (your custom apps)
  • Start composing your brand story on Timeline with Milestone stories
  • Get ready to manage incoming one to one messages from your fans

 

 

Fanpage Design Implications:

Facebook Timeline Design Implications

Facebook Timeline Design Implications

 

 

 

App Design Implications:

Facebook Timeline Design Implications

Facebook Timeline Design Implications

 

 

 

Sources: Facebook, All Facebook and Engage Sciences.