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New Facebook Timeline is Coming Your Way: Are You Ready?

The New Facebook Timeline is coming your way on March 30, whether you are ready or not. Here are 7 tips to keep in mind so you can put your best engagement foot forward!

1) Cover Image: as you’ve probably seen by now, the most drastic change to the new Facebook timeline format is the new “cover” photo. This landscape image will span across the top of your organization’s page and will provide a great way to visually represent what is most important to you, what best describes you, or highlight an ongoing campaign. This image will look best when it is a high quality image 851-by-315 pixels. Something important to keep in mind is that this cover image can not be an advertisement. Specifically, it may not contain your contact information (URL, email, street address), calls to action or references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share.” See IIIB for all the details in Facebook’s Page Terms.

2) Profile Picture: what was your previous profile picture will automatically default to your new profile picture, only this time it will be in the bottom left of your cover image. To make sure your profile picture renders best, format your image (most likely your logo) to 180-by-180 pixels.

3) Tabs (apps). What happens to my Apps, you ask? Ahh, yes, no need to worry. Your Apps will now become Tabs, and they will be located directly under your cover image. Here you will see your Photos, Videos, Notes, Likes, and Events (if you selected all of these to show previously). You can’t custom edit these Tabs (although there are ways to get around this which I am happy to explain if you are interested offline), although you can move their placement. To do this:

  • Look all the way to the right of your Tabs.
  • Find the little down arrow button and click this to expand the view of your Tabs.
  • Now hover over the Tab you wish to move and click the little edit pencil when it appears.
  • When it appears, look for the “switch position with” and then click on the Tab you’d like to switch this Tab with.
  • You should now be all set.

Quick tip: you can have up to 12 total tabs.

Interestingly, you can create Custom Tabs for your other Apps that have automatically migrated over. To create a custom Tab:

  • Hover over the Tab like in the instructions above, and wait for the little edit pencil to appear.
  • When the pencil appears, click on it and look for the drop-down that says: Edit Settings. The Edit Settings box will pop up.
  • From here you can Remove the app, add a Custom Tab Image, or set a Custom Tab Name.
  • Start by adding your call to action words as the Custom Tab Name, and click Save. To change the image, click Change next to the Custom Tab Image and when the browser pops up, search for your image.

Quick Tip: Tabs are 111 x 74 pixels. Facebook will format any other image to fit this, and it won’t look as clean.

I think the new Tabs functionality is one of the best ways you can use the new format to best promote your brand and engage with users. Check out the U.S. Army for example. It has 8 total Tabs, and some amazing custom tabs including a “Heritage” Tab that currently features Women in the U.S. Army, and a Nation Gives Thanks widget. Depending on your mission objectives, the sky is the limit to how creative you can be. Check out Guess clothing. They have a “Sign up” tab that allows users to sign up with one click on this page.

4) Your Designated Landing Page is Now Gone. Something very important to note is that you can no longer drive users to any landing page except specifically the Timeline page. That doesn’t mean, however, a custom landing page you created previously is gone forever. Instead, it is now a custom Tab most likely called “Welcome.” Check out the City of Marietta, Georgia’s page for example. Before the Timeline format, they had a custom landing page asking users to “Like” their page and sign-up for e-mail updates, Subscribe to receive news from City Hall, events and emergency alerts by e-mail or cell phone (SO SMART). This still exists, it is just moved.

The possibilities to be creative with Tabs are really endless. Check out this page by Yoga Relief – - and look closely at their Tabs. See the big arrow Tab that says “Like Yoga Relief.” Click on that and you are taken to a new page with a giant arrow that asks you to click “like.” Again, very smart. I will stop there with the examples so this post doesn’t become a dissertation. The bottom line is you can be SUPER CREATIVE with Facebook Tabs, so I highly recommend you do.

5) Pin Your Most Important Content for 7 Days! Since the word “pin” is becoming ever more popular these days [cough Pinterest, cough], Facebook is jumping on the bandwagon. Now you can “pin” a post to the top of your page and it will remain there for 7 days. All the nitty gritty details can be found here regarding exactly how to do this.

6) Your Fans Can Privately Message Your Organization. With the new format, a fan can now send a message privately to the organization (if it is enabled). However, interestingly, Organizations can only RESPOND to a private message sent by a fan. Also, to note: this functionality is optional. How do you turn this feature off or on? There is a place in your Admin control panel where you can turn this off and not allow fans to message you. If you think your organization can adequately respond to fan messages, definitely turn it on. If you don’t have the bandwidth, my recommendation is to turn off so you don’t appear to be unresponsive. Here’s a quick post that outlines how to control this message funct...

7) Last But Not Least – Real-time Insights! If you monitored a Facebook page before the new format, you know you often had to wait typically at least two days to get any feedback on metrics. Now, the wait time is between 5-10 minutes. Check out this TechCrunch article that outlines everything. In short, this makes me very, very happy. It’s actionable data that you can start using right away to influence your next post, and you can’t go wrong with immediate feedback.

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Tags: 2, communications, miscellaneous, project management, tech

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Comment by Vicky on May 28, 2012 at 9:20pm

Lauren, thanks for the tips.  I'm confused how to create a new tab/app unless you were already signed up with an existing program.  Is this correct or am I making it more difficult than it needs to be?  For instance, with Guess they have a sign up app.  How do you add that to your page if you didn't have it before?  Thanks for your help!

Comment by Beverly Speer on April 12, 2012 at 6:37pm

Helpful. Thanks. But I think the link to TechCrunch in #7 is incorrect (seems to be the link for disabling FB message option). Should it be:

http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/26/facebook-insights-real-time/

Comment by Scott Span on April 11, 2012 at 3:26pm

I feel like I should know all these things...but I don't =). The Army page looks great. Glad to see Gov't utilizing and staying on top of social media changes. Thanks for the high level overview, Lauren!

Comment by Marjie Brown on April 2, 2012 at 5:53pm

Yes Carol - we've been frustrated by the map zoom issue too. We'll probably get rid of it. Re: Photos - I've heard that same sentiment from others as well. Why do they make that photo tab mandatory and uneditable? Also  - does anyone have a recommendation for third party Twitter integration apps? I need to get our Twitter prominently displayed in a tab as our Twitter audience is much larger than Facebook right now. I'm not finding any satisfactory options! 

Comment by Carol A. Spencer on April 2, 2012 at 11:24am

We made all our changes on Friday.  I found two major layout issues, for MorrisCountyNJ at least.  

First is the inability to remove the FB Photos app.  We use the pro version of Flickr so all our photos are on an app open to all, rather than behind the login requirement of FB.  Because I can't remove the FB photos app, I now have two photo boxes.  

Second is the inability to change the zoom percentage of the displayed map.  Because of the zoom percentage, the map of Morris County NJ bolds Paterson NJ, which is in Passaic County.  I can't figure out how to change the zoom or the center point.  I've played with it in the basic settings, yet the displayed map is always the same.  So, we deleted the map app.

Today, I found FB had arbitrarily changed my edited app graphics back to whatever it apparently considered the defaults.  And, now it won't let me change the "about" field.  

So, as with all things Facebook, change is the operative word.

Comment by Kirby Coon on April 2, 2012 at 10:22am

Thank you for the tips. I haven't played with the timeline much and not sure I like it, but this information can only help. Appreciate your taking the time to find this information out and sharing it. 

Comment by Steven W. Oxman on April 2, 2012 at 10:14am

Thank you.  Steve

Comment by Jeremy Bertrand on March 29, 2012 at 4:25pm

The new messaging feature is great, several folks have contacted us with questions already using the message tool.  The only challenge I've seen so far is that it's a bit more difficult to see who posted on your wall. The navigation is a bit confusing. Try looking directly under your tabs and above the posts there is a little "highlights" box that you can click on to change what posts you see on the page, and that will help you see who has posted on your page.

Comment by Lauren Modeen on March 29, 2012 at 1:18pm

Mark / Marjie / Kate / Lisa / Joseph - - you are all so welcome! Hope it helps!

Comment by Mark Sullivan on March 29, 2012 at 12:39pm

Outstanding! Thank you!

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