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Facebook Timeline, part 1: 6 steps to your new look

By now, you would have heard the news: Timeline is coming to Facebook brand pages. On March 31, all business pages will convert to the new Timeline layout. The social media platform did announce this was happening with personal profiles as well, and the mandatory switch is yet to happen. However, Facebook has more to gain from the business pages, so it is very likely to happen on that date.

This is the first of a series of blogs introducing you to the new features. The next blog will look at some of the more sophisticated features such as changes to insights, advertising, and direct messaging.

This blog will cover the basics to help you get your page ready for the switch. I suggest you take two hours to sit down and go through these steps and when you are done. You can either take control and flip the switch yourself or wait for it to happen by Facebook’s hand.

You now have the option to switch the Timeline preview on your page. Once the preview is on (which you can only see if you are using Facebook as your personal profile), go ahead and make these changes. Once they are done, you can switch your page over for the world to see!

1. Creative cover

You now have far more room to show your brand in pictures. There are some strict guidelines about what you can put in your 851 pixels wide x 315 pixels high banner. It can contain your logo. It cannot contain any call to action. No ‘Like’ instructions, no ‘buy now, no ‘50% off. So, in short, it cannot be used to overtly market your page, your brand or your products and services.

This means you have to get creative. Find a way to sell your business with images. Some brands who’ve done this well are BillabongMacy’sCoca-Cola, and, of course, Social Mediology.

2. Profile picture

You will notice that two of the example pages have used their logo as their profile picture, and two have used images that represent them. Both approaches are fine, and it is far more acceptable now just to use your logo for the profile picture, as the cover is where you can be more creative and descriptive. Just remember, though, with only 17% of fans ever going back to your page after clicking ‘Like’, your profile picture or thumbnail is all they are going to see on their wall.

The profile picture is best done at 180 x 180 (which shrinks to 125 x 125). You want high-resolution pictures, as Facebook images have a tendency to pixelate otherwise.

3. Terrific tabs

The new Timeline has done away with welcome or landing pages. You now have no choice but for people to land on your Timeline. The Timeline Apps (tabs) appear just under the cover photo. The Photo tab is fixed and you can’t change it. Most brands like to display how many ‘Likes’ they have, so this leaves you with just two tabs that are likely to be seen by your fans. You can have more, but fans must click on the drop-down menu to see them, so the likelihood is slim.

If you have current tabs they will show up here. You can change the display image (111 x 74 pixels) by clicking on the edit icon in the top right of the display image. Here, you have the option to change the image and switch the positions.

You can still link directly to these tabs from outside Facebook. The width of the Timeline app pages has increased to 810 pixels. Your current tabs will just display centered on the page.

4. Happy highlights

You can now highlight a post and it will display over the whole Timeline (2 columns) rather than just on one side of the Timeline. Take some time before the switch to go through your Timeline and choose some posts to highlight. Make them the visually interesting posts that help tell the story of your business rather than pure marketing posts.

5. Prime pinning

The greatest feature of the new Timeline for businesses is the ability to pin a post to the top of your Timeline. This will pin a post in the top position for 7 days, before releasing itself back to its chronological place in the Timeline. Select this option from the ‘edit post’ icon in the top right of your post.

6. Magic milestones

The Milestone feature allows you to paint the story of your business. Take some time to go back and create the history of your business in images. Celebrate major achievements, major changes to your brand, products or services, or functions or events that help show the human side of your business.

Once those steps are complete, you are ready to launch your new Timeline. You can make the switch yourself or wait for the mandatory switch. If you want to make an event of it and have your fans visit, comment, and engage, then you might want to be one of the first to switch. The novelty will wear off pretty quickly on March 31 with brands telling their fans to come and visit their Timeline. Either way, when it does happen, tell your fans!

We’d love to see your new Timelines when they are done – post the URL in the comments below so we can come and visit!

Kate is a social media specialist and the founder and CEO of Social Mediology. She is passionate about using online technologies to connect businesses with the customers, communities, and causes they care about. Social Mediology specializes in ‘from the ground up’ social media strategy, implementation, and training for small and medium-sized businesses and the not-for-profit sector.

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