9 Facebook Brand Timeline Changes Marketers Need to Know
Yesterday, Facebook confirmed and expanded on changes for brand pages at the Facebook Marketing Conference. Now that brands can update their page to the new Timeline format at any time, the following is an overview of the changes that you need to know.
The most obvious change to pages is that the look and feel of the page mirrors that of users with Timeline. Now brands have the opportunity to create an 851 x 315px cover photo, and the multimedia content the brand shares within the page receives a lot larger real estate than before.
Before you rush off to create a Timeline photo, you'll need to carefully read the following guidelines from Facebook:
Tab Changes & No Default Landing Tab
Instead of up to 9 tabs/applications being shown on the right hand side bar, 3 tabs are displayed below the cover image beside a default "Photos" tab, with an option to add up to 12 total tabs. These tab call out boxes are now 111 pixels wide and 74 pixels tall, and tabs themselves have widened from 520px to 830px wide. While current tabs will still view correctly, marketer's will need to move forward designing tabs and call out boxes under these new dimensions.
Along with these changes comes the news that there is no longer an option to select a default landing tab. Since the majority of organic tab views are generated from the default landing tab, this could negatively effect the results of social programs living on Facebook. Marketer's may want to consider setting new benchmarks for tab views before running large social promotions on Facebook. Additionally, this move is likely to force more marketers to purchase ads on Facebook to see the same kind of results.
Facebook announced yesterday that Facebook pages and the tabs and applications on those pages will be able to be viewed on mobile and tablet devices in the near future. With more users engaging with Facebook on their mobile devices, this comes as great news for marketers. We'll update more on this when we get an idea of what the user experience will be like.
Pinned and Starred Content
Marketers now can choose to "Pin" an update they created to the top of the page, and this update will stay at the top of the page for 7 days. This feature is likely to be used by marketer's who want to increase the engagement with particular posts or drive traffic to tabs.
Another way to control content on Timeline is to Star it. Using this feature, brands can take up two column widths to display photos and videos more prominently.
The new timeline layout shows fans and non-fans alike how many of their friends have already connected with the page. Although this social proof is an interesting addition to the page, it's still unclear if this will compel non-fans to take the action of Liking the page.
In addition, pages now automatically pull in "relevant" conversations others are having on Facebook. This is good when users are having relevant conversations about your brand, but not so good when anyone mentions your brand name in a complaint on their personal wall, or when irrelevant conversations are pulled into your page.
Another feature added to pages is "Messages". This allows users to privately message the brand, and allows the brand to respond directly within Facebook. This feature has the benefit of taking negative conversations off the wall, but the privacy of the feature has the potential to increase the volume of complaints or customer issues brands receive. If a brand does not have the resources to open up this potential can of worms - this feature can be disabled. In fact, most pages I've found using Timeline do not have this feature enabled.
Facebook hinted yesterday that they will be rolling out different levels of administrative permissions to pages, so that not all admins have the same rights. We'll update on this feature when it's available to review.
Premium Ad Units
Yet again Sponsored Stories have been revamped into a new ad unit with wider distribution. "Premium Ad Units" allow brands to promote images, videos, events, and offers and will be displayed on the Facebook homepage, within the newsfeed (for the first time), on Facebook mobile, and again on the log-out screen. Facebook claims that this can allow brands to reach up to 75% of their fans.
Facebook has given up officially on "Check In Deals" and is replacing this by debuting a new "offer" post feature from the page publisher. In the next few weeks we'll see this roll out - but right now it appears that it will be a free way for brands to update their page with sales and discounts. These offers can also be promoted via Facebook Premium Ad Units to drive traffic and usage. The following is a snapshot of what this is likely to look like.
Overall, Facebook has made a lot of changes that mostly favor Facebook users more than marketers. Most of these changes begin making it more difficult for brands to increase Likes to their page and views of tabs without requiring an ad spend on Facebook. These small changes show a larger move the network is making to begin placing more value on overall engagement than sheer number of Facebook Likes (whether marketer's like it or not).
These improvements may all be positioned by Facebook as "improvements" from the previous design, but savvy marketer's will understand these seemingly small changes could dramatically effect their benchmarks of success on Facebook.
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