Facebook Timeline for Brand Pages Launched

You may already be familiar with the new Facebook timeline. A developer hack was making its way around the Web in September 2011, way before Facebook officially rolled it out to all members.

But on Wednesday February 29, 2012, Facebook rolled out the new timeline feature for its business pages. The new timeline will be pushed live to everyone on March 30, but for now, you have some time to preview the new look and review your page before the changes take effect. You can also switch between the new and old page design before March 30, but don't get attached to the old layout—come April, it will be history.

The new timeline is more visually engaging and makes room for exhibiting greater brand creativity. It merges the profile and wall of your Facebook page into one and allows users to easily navigate through previous posts. Providing users with a more personable social experience seems to be the main goal behind the new timeline.

Facebook users are still not so much in love with their personal Facebook profiles upgrading to the new timelines (many threatened to move to rival network Google+ and never look back), but perhaps the new features will entice them to stay after all...

What has changed:

  • The cover photo is the first thing people will see when they visit your new timeline. Change it often, play with it, and channel your inner artist.
  • Cover images must be at least 399 pixels wide and maynot contain:
    • Price or purchase information, such as discount offers or coupons.
    • Contact information, such as Web address, email addresses, 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," "Tell your friends," or "Download from our site!"
    • All cover images are public, which means anyone visiting your page will be able to see the image you choose.
  • Profile picture dimensions have changed. Choose an image that's square and at least 180 pixels wide.
  • Your wall and profile will merge into a single element.
  • Tabs have been removed. So your blog tab, contest tab, etc. have all been made into boxes at the top of your profile.
  • Highlight what's important—photos, likes, and apps are now in boxes at the top of your page, so you must be selective in deciding what's most important.
    • Photos show in the first spot, but you can change the order of everything else so people see what matters most.
    • You can show a maximum number of 12 apps, so make sure to put your most important ones first. The first four will be boxes visible at the top of the page, while the remaining eight boxes will reside in a drop down menu.
  • The new timeline takes a page from Google and Pinterest—it is going for the organic, visually stimulating approach.
    • Content that is fresh and relevant can be "pinned" (sound familiar?) to the top of the timeline. A pinned update stays at the top for seven days; afterwards, it can be re-pinned.
    • You can highlight a story (select the star icon on the post) to visually inform the user that the brand considers this story to be the most relevant.
  • You can no longer have a default landing page or fan gate for your fans. A user is automatically taken to your wall.
  • The position of the Like button has changed, so if your image contains an arrow pointing to the Like button, it may need to be updated. However, keep in mind Facebook's ban on calls to action in cover images.

What really works for the new timeline?

  • Facebook admins and social media managers—sit back and relax a little. The new admin panel at the top of a business page (only visible to admins) offers a quick vignette into the health of your Facebook account (new likes, page insights, fan activities, and more). No more multiple clicks needed to get to your Facebook Insights!
  • One of our favorite features is being able to chronicle company events from the days of yore to the present. Timeline provides a walk down memory lane, marking the important milestones and achievements of a company—especially useful for an advertising agency celebrating 75 years in business.
    • If your page represents a company with a particularly long history, good news: Facebook timeline lets you fill in your brand's history all the way back to the year 1000!
    • The timeline layout makes it much easier to navigate previous posts, so if your company history does stretch for hundress of years, your fans and visitors will be able to zoom through time with just a click or two.
  • Ever felt the need to communicate something privately to an organization via Facebook but did not want to post your message on their wall? Users can now send private messages to company Facebook pages. These messages will be seen in the new admin panel.
    • However, Facebook brand pages can not send messages to users. Brand pages can reply to a message, but cannot initiate a discussion. Nor can brand pages send messages to other business pages.
  • Newsfeed remains dominant. With Facebook's sharpened Edge Rank algorithm, engaging, original, and potent content will rule a user's newsfeed. This skill is where most brand pages will fail, and only a few will play the game right. (More on that challenge in another blog post.)

My momma always says make a good first impression, and now Facebook's new timeline encourages everyone to do just that. How do you feel about Facebook's latest update? What features have made a good impression on you?