Facebook has opened its Timeline feature to business users, giving them more control over the appearance of their Facebook pages, but experts say the changes will require a lot of initial work.
Businesses currently have the option of upgrading their pages to Timeline, but will be forced to do so on March 30.
Although the new format has received some criticism from users, the Timeline feature could prove more advantageous for business-oriented profiles.
Oversized graphics and a pin board-style layout, likening Facebook to newer social networking sites such as Pinterest, can provide easier advertising opportunities for businesses.
StartupSmart identifies three ways to use Timeline to benefit your business:
The Timeline cover displays an 851×315 pixel banner across the top of your page. It’s important to note covers may not display calls to action or references to Facebook features.
“[The] goal is to symbolise what an organisation is all about,” Facebook product director of advertisements Gokul Rajaram told TechCrunch.
“For a restaurant, it could be a popular menu item, a band could display album cover art, and a business could show a picture of their customers using their product.”
“Brands have been very positive [about the restrictions] because they don’t want to be seen as overly promotional – it’s a turnoff.”
“Pick a visually stunning, high-resolution image that will delight or intrigue visitors and make them want to scroll down to your updates.”
2. Page apps
The redesign of how page apps are displayed could be the main disadvantage of Timeline. Apps have been relocated from the left navigation sidebar to the right side of the “About” section.
While they appear with thumbnail photos instead of as text links, they’ve overshadowed by the cover. There are four app tiles above the fold, the first of which is always occupied by “Photos”.
Previously, pages could set a default landing tab that all non-fans would see first instead of the wall when they visited a page. This is no longer allowed.
Instead, users always see the main Timeline view and have to actively click through to custom apps. This means custom apps for contests, promotions, etc. may receive much less engagement.
To edit which apps you display, click the dropdown icon to the right of the tiles, click the “+” button to import your custom apps, hover over them and click the pencil to swap them around.
3. Pinned posts
You can select to pin one of your best new or old posts to the top spot of the Timeline feed for seven days at a time.
Pinning can be used to direct users to an important promotional app, show off a photo or display a timely status update. The feature gives you significant control over what visitors see first.
Make sure you keep a link to your website pinned at all times, and rotate it with links to your apps or whatever else you want to drive the most traffic to or impressions of.
Beyond pinning posts, you can select to highlight important posts throughout their Timeline to make them appear the full width of the page.
Ideally, before you publish Timeline, or at least at some point, you should crawl through your entire Timeline and highlight all your best photos and links that are still relevant and positive.