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Facebook's New Timeline for Businesses

By March 30, Facebook will require small business owners to make adjustments to their existing social media strategies and graphics. Are you ready?

In the world of Facebook, there have been some major changes to business page designs and features. As a result, brand marketers and small business owners will have to make some adjustments to their current social media strategies and graphics by the time the new Facebook Timeline is made mandatory for all business pages on March 30.

Your Look

A very noticeable part of the entirely new design of the page is a cover photo, which is a large photo or graphic banner at the top of the page. There needs to be a lot of thought put into which art should be designated as the cover because it’s the first thing that consumers are going to focus on when they visit the page. It should really be a representation of your entire brand, so this choice should be made wisely.

Basic Image Sizes:

Facebook cover photo size: 850 x 315 pixels – that’s 850 wide by 315 high

Facebook profile image size: 180 x 180 pixels square

There are also very strict new rules you need to make your graphic designer aware of as well. According to Facebook, your cover photo is not an advertisement and must not include:

  • Price, offers or purchase information such as “10% off” or “Visit our website for more info.”
  • Contact information such as a website, email and mailing address.
  • References to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features.
  • Calls-to-action such as “Buy it now” or “Tell your friends.”
  • Covers must not be false, deceptive or misleading, and must not infringe on third party intellectual property.

Your Message

You will notice below the cover photo there is a new message feature, which allows for more personal interaction between a business and its audience. If a consumer has a question or comment, her or she will be able to reach out through a private message instead of posting it publicly on the timeline. The new message feature makes it simple to build one-on-one valuable relationships with your audience.  Even though personally responding to each message may be time consuming, you will be showing your audience that you genuinely care.

Your Past

Along with the revamping of the design, Facebook Timeline also allows you to go back through your history to the very moment when you set up your page. All of the company’s older material will be there, and its past will be laid out for you and everyone else on the social web. It is important to go back and take a look at what will be exposed, so you can edit and add to the Timeline, effectively creating the perfect scrapbook for your business.

Your Present

Similar to blog posts, a major new feature is the ability to “pin” certain posts to the top of the Timeline, allowing the post to appear before any other content. You are able to pin one item at a time and it will exist at the top item on the Timeline, as well as in its place where it was originally posted. If you decide to unpin the post, it will stay in its original place chronologically on the timeline. This great ability to pin allows brands to highlight new and interesting content.

5 Quick RULES to Remember When Managing Your Facebook Business Page

Though there are some new and exciting changes to the Facebook business page, the rules of engagement still hold true. inBLOOM put together this quick checklist to help you remember the RULES when socializing and promoting your business on Facebook.

R-  Run exciting promotions and contests. You will need to use applications to run these within Facebook Promotional Guidelines. Northsocial and Wildfire offer a variety of application plans to fit your budget.

U-  Understand your fans and post about current trends and topics related to their interests, as well as your business products and services.

L-   Leverage your networks. Link to other business and organizational pages. Thank them when they do the same. This will build your fan base and show that your business is an active part of a greater community of business and organizational leaders.

E-   Expect people to stir the social media pot. Be responsive to negative postings. Don’t always be quick to delete a negative comment. Take the time to respond and take your fans’ comments and gripes seriously. You may not agree with them, but unless the comment is offensive or deceitful you should engage in a online conversation with the person. Thank them for their posting and ask how you could rectify the situation. Always remember that others are watching and listening to your responses.

S-   Spend time tracking your results. There are many programs that can assist you when tracking the rate on your investment. HootsuiteHubspot and Google Analytics are great tools for tracking your social media efforts. Like any traditional marketing campaign, you should maintain your own tracking system as well. Your support staff at your physical business location should code or track the sales or services you receive thanks to your daily social media work.  Facebook may be free, but how you spend your time using it makes all the difference in your results.

There is a lot more to mention and learn about, for instance Facebook’s policies and promotion guidelines. This all seems like a lot to absorb and keep up with, and the busy business bees may not have the time to give themselves a crash course in Facebook. With the Facebook Timeline, there are new strategic approaches to market your brand to your audience. Feel free to contact us at inBLOOM Communications with any questions.

Here are a few additional resources to help you on your path to running a successful Facebook Business Page:

Social Media Today’s Facebook Promotion Guidelines, DECODED

Facebook outlines new Timeline for brand pages, including an FAQ

“Timeline for brands: How to prepare for your company’s new Facebook page” (Mashable)

“Get ready: Facebook is rolling out the Timeline for fan pages” (Business Insider)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Shannon K. Winning March 16, 2012 at 01:55 PM
This was a really informative post. I've been encouraging my mom to set up a Facebook page for her business. Now I have some good pointers to pass on. You mentioned tracking through HootSuite. Doesn't Facebook provide some of it's own tracking data on a weekly basis? Like, "44 people are talking about this.." ?
Jennifer Smiga March 17, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Hi Shannon! Facebook’s Insights have definitely improved since Timeline has been released. Once you publish your page, a business will be able to access its Insights under the admin panel: insights. Only page admins and developers can view this data. The upgrade includes the timeliness of impressions, reach, negative feedback, people talking about this, and user demographics. Data is aggregated on a daily basis and is available within 24 hours after the full day is complete. This FREE metrics/data can also be exported as an excel file. NOTE: Weekly and monthly roll-ups are not yet available through the dashboard and the demographic data for “People Talking About This” is only available when 30+ people were talking about your page in the seven days preceding the last day of your selected date range. Fans can also access a limited version of your insights by clicking on the Likes tab on your nav bar. Some marketers might not be happy about publicly displaying this information, but it can be helpful to understanding how your competitors are performing. This info is more limited and highlights data including Likes broken down by cities, Like sources, Page views, and External referrals. Overall, the upgraded Facebook Insights Dashboard is a fantastic tool for the busy business owner who wants a quick snapshot of their fans. By understanding and analyzing your fans demographics and interests, admins are better equipped to improve their business with Facebook.

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