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Is Your Agency or Organization Ready for the Facebook Timeline Switch? You Have until March 30th!

Did you know that your Facebook Page is going to radically change in look and functionality on March 30th?

Below is an overview of Facebook Timeline that we prepared for our Ketchum clients that outlines all of the major new features, and recommendations for how to use the new format.

Keep in Mind that All Pages will convert to the new timeline by March 30, 2012!

However, between now and then you will have time to build out your new Timeline within a sandbox environment, thus ensuring it’s exactly to your company or organization’s liking before launching it to the world.

So what is Facebook Timeline?

Facebook Timeline = Cosmetic and Administrative Changes

The new Timeline for Facebook Pages features will provide brands and organizations with the tools to tell a more authentic story. By creating the Timeline view for Pages, Facebook is not only instituting cosmetic changes to your current page, but also functional changes that will allow you to tell a better story and interact with your fan base in a much more personal and engaging fashion.

Facebook Timeline = One Overall Campaign- No More Tabs

After you launch the Timeline version of your page, it will be an even more enticing place to aggregate conversation and engagement around the brand. Previously your campaigns were segmented to individual tabs, but with the new Timeline the entire Page becomes one overall campaign.

Let’s take a quick peek at how Starbuck is using the Facebook Timeline design:

Ultimately, your company or organization will be able to express your identity to consumers in a more engaging fashion by utilizing the new features that Facebook Timeline offers.

An Overview of Eight Major Facebook Timeline Features:

1. Cover Image:

The cover image is a welcome banner to your Page that will be the first thing people see when they visit. Consider what you want your fans and new visitors to take away from their visit and how you want them to perceive the brand. This image (851 X 315 pixels) will set the tone for the users’ experience on the page. There are several cover photo restrictions.

Cover photos cannot include:

  • Price of purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”.
  • Contact information, such as a website address, email, mailing address, or other information that should go in your Page’s “About” section.
  • References to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like,” “share,” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

2. Profile picture:

Your profile picture will represent your organization/brand on other parts of Facebook− ads, sponsored stories, and in your fans’ news feed. We recommend using your official logo and ensure it is sized appropriately to the new Facebook image specs: high quality image that scales well from 180 x 180 to 32 x 32 pixels


3. Pinned Posts:

This new feature allows you to select a post to pin to the top of the Page that will last for 7 days, and take up the width of the Page. This is a feature we recommend using so as to better promote the top content you have identified for each week in your editorial calendar as it will be prominently featured when a user visits the page. This is similar to sticky posts in online forums.

4. Views and apps:

Your views, photos and custom apps will now appear at the top of your Page. Previously apps were displayed by text tab links. The new Timeline displays apps with visual logo art that will drive more visitors to discovering your company/organization’s photos, apps, and more. You will have the ability to customize these images. The icons on the main Page should be scaled at 110 x 74 pixels, and the individual app page should display images that are up to 810 pixels.

Note: The photos icon is in a fixed position and will always display the most recently uploaded photo. The views icon provides a competitive analysis to all Facebook users. We recommend moving this icon off the main Page so that this insight will not be as easily accessible to competitors.

5. Larger Stories:

Publish and feature multiple stories about a campaign using rich and engaging photos and videos. You will have the ability to highlight important stories with the star icon, and hide or delete stories that aren’t as engaging with the pencil icon.

6. Milestones:

Publish new events and milestones that define your key moments over time. Facebook provides examples of milestones such as reaching a certain number of fans, opening a new store, or winning an award. This feature will allow visitors to engage with the brand or organization’s history long after a milestone has passed.

7. Friend activity:

The Timeline will be a unique viewing experience for each individual, as it will be personalized based on each visitors friends activity. When people visit your page, they will see which of their friends likes the Page and how their friends are interacting with your brand/organization. Research has shown that seeing your friends talk about a brand will encourage their engagement on the Page and with the brand in a sales environment.

8. Management Tools:

There have been several changes to the admin panel that will allow it to function more like a dashboard.

  • Notifications: You will receive notifications about all the activity on your Page
  • Messages: You will be able to directly respond to people when they message you privately. This will be especially beneficial for custom service.
  • Scheduling Posts: you will now be able to plan ahead and schedule posts for future publishing
  • Real-time insights: You will now have access to data and metrics on your Page in real-time.
  • Activity Log: View all your Page posts including ones you’ve chosen to hide. Use the drop-down menu to filter stories by type or date. This allows you to keep a running history of users engagement with your Page.

Keep in mind that there are 4 key questions to consider when setting management permissions:

1. Who do you want to have permission to post on your Page?

This permission can be limited to only display the company/organization’s post.

2. Where do you want posts to go?

Posts from visitors can be displayed on a container on the right side of your Timeline, throughout the Timeline, or can be hidden completely. We recommend displaying these comments in the container on the right side of your Timeline. The use of the container is a way to display visitor’s posts in an organized way and will allow you to devote other Timeline real estate to highlighting major milestones and other important company/organization content.

3. Will you moderate all posts before they are displayed on your Timeline?

This new management tool offers the ability to hold visitors posts in a queue until they are approved.

4. Do you want fans to have the ability to message you privately?

This new feature allows visitors to message the company/organization directly. We recommend the use of this tool, which will allow you to directly interact with users and provide customer service when needed.

There are New Facebook Ads to Compliment the Timeline

Administrators should also know that Facebook has rolled out new Ads to compliment the new Timeline for Facebook Pages. Ad formats include status updates, photos, events, videos and questions.

Ads can appear:

1. On the right hand side of your homepage

2. In the homepage newsfeed on desktop

  • These will appear to Fans and friends of Fans
  • These sponsored stories will show higher in the newsfeed and live longer

3. In a mobile phone’s newsfeed

  • This is Facebook’s first mobile advertising capability
  • These will appear to Fans and friends of Fans

*Note*. At Ketchum we are not recommending that our clients use the mobile phone advertising. Currently, there is not an official Facebook app, and therefore we need to wait to see how/when the major Facebook apps roll out this new functionality to mobile users.

4. During the log out experience

  • When users log out they will see a large, highly visual photo or video that will take over the log-out screen

*Note* At Ketchum we are not recommending this form of advertising to our clients. Currently, there are no hard metrics around how many people actually log-out of Facebook. Therefore, until hard metrics are formed around this proving the creative and ad spend on this form of advertising, Ketchum recommends holding off utilizing this feature.

New Tool: Reach Generator

It’s also important to know that Facebook has released a new tool called Reach generator that will help your company or organization to broaden the scope of their messaging. Utilizing this tool will increase the percentage of fans that will see the message from 16% to 75%. We recommend further research into the use of this new tool.

In Summary: Administrators Need to Prepare Now, but Facebook Timeline will be Valuable:

The new Facebook Timeline features will allow your company or organization to better spread brand messages, encourage engagement, and facilitate direct interaction with your customers. Our tips for using the new Timeline include:

  • Use the ability to privately message people to provide a direct, and more personalized customer service within the Facebook platform.
  • Highlight friend activity will encourage visitors to join in the conversation around the brand. The use of rich and engaging videos and photos in posts will also promote interaction between visitors and the company/organization.
  • Identify major milestones will provide a rich user experience, as visitors will be able to travel back in time and learn more about the brand/organization’s unique story.
  • Investing in your social content by featuring top posts to the top of your Timeline.

Start playing with your Facebook Timeline design today so that you’re not surprised on March 30th!

References

http://blog.ketchum.com/facebook-timeline-for-pages/

http://ads.ak.facebook.com/ads/FacebookAds/Pages_Overview.pdf

http://ads.ak.facebook.com/ads/FacebookAds/Pages_Product_Guide_022812.pdf

http://mashable.com/2012/02/29/facebook-brand-timelines-changes-marketing/

http://blogs.omniture.com/2012/02/29/fmc-the-facebook-page-becomes-your-campaign-in-real-time/

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