The change to a forced Timeline display for all Facebook pages at the end of this week (March 30th!) has many of us scrambling to make sure our Pages look good in this new view. Here are some things I’m learning that might help you make your Page as appealing as possible given the constraints and limitations of forcing your content into a “timeline”.
Lesson 1: Regular Posting Required
We will be doing something new and more interesting for our Fresh ID Facebook Page, but look at it right now: http://www.facebook.com/FreshID – we haven’t posted lately and this is a good lesson for us – if you don’t, the timeline is only showing one month’s posts at a time and if you scroll down you can see that the Page now looks rather empty… not a good indicator of being in a thriving business, unfortunately. Regular posting is clearly going to be more important than ever before, as it’s doubtful people will really hop down through all the months in the Timeline navigation on the right side of the page for the typical business (if you have photos of gorgeous motorcycles or beautiful women all over your Timeline, you may be the exception!)
Lesson 2: Crafty Marketing Required
Unfortunately for the majority of businesses, who used Profile images and custom tabs to promote their goods, services and events on Facebook, the Timeline “Cover” cannot be used for this purpose. What this means is you need to employ some creativity in the one thing everyone who visits your Page will definitely see. Though we will design some cover images with some words on them, they won’t be overt calls to action. For those, we will now use the Photo posts and have to make an image for promotion of an event or a sale, for example. Then as people scroll the page they will see the messaging without having to wade through a lot of text. Figure out the optimal size of photos for this Timeline view so that none of your promotional copy is cut off.
Lesson 3: People Will See Images for 2-3 Tabs… What’s Important To You?
Facebook has once again messed with the Custom Tabs so that they are liable to never be seen, is the sad, sad truth. I don’t think we can designate a Welcome Tab as the default Landing url anymore, and gone is the ability to “Like to Unlock” something. Sigh… you have 4 little boxes beneath the Timeline Cover image, that lead to an app or custom tab, so pick what you want to feature and pray people click the little box. You can change these images for each app, so make the images very interesting themselves so people might want to click them! Photos are stuck in place as #1, so if you are a business, such as a dry cleaner or accountant who doesn’t normally use photos on Facebook, you’ll need to think about this and come to terms with having new tasks in your life. Perhaps you can make some graphic images or at least take a good one of your business 0r staff so you have something of interest showing in the primary spot that people might click. I love that Facebook fancies themselves marketing wizards and want money from businesses, yet continue to make choices that benefit an active college fraternity more than the typical small-to-medium business who purchases ads. (Not really.)
There is an important psychological aspect you should be aware of, and that is that some people don’t really like to leave Facebook – bizarrely, they think Facebook IS the internet. You should still make use of Custom Tabs, especially now that you have more width to use (810 now, vs 520 before.) You can’t count on people finding them from these boxes when they hit your Page though, so link to them from within a post or photo update, and continue to link to them from your Facebook ads to try to get people to your focused messaging.
Lesson 4: Your Logo Needs To Be Beautifully Square
You no longer have a long profile image to work with. It’s a square, and it’s going to cut into your Timeline Cover image. Be clever or not, but at the very least your logo or main company representation must look good in this square space as it’s the avatar and the Timeline Cover are the two things at minimum someone will see when they visit your Page.
Lesson 5: Buy a Camera & Use It Constantly, or Have a Giant Photography Budget
Photos MAKE the Timeline view come alive. Best case in point is Harley-Davidson, who sometimes just says “Photo of the Day” to stick a photo up. Their Page, compared to those who don’t have photos up like this, is better by an enormous order of magnitude. Not all of us have decades of interesting photography to use, however, or a large budget to continuously produce new photos that don’t look like something taken from an amateur’s phone camera. I went to Victoria’s Secret, thinking they might have something really interesting going on, but sadly they do not – they are missing a HUGE opportunity to use all the photos they have at their disposal and load up the timeline with images of gorgeous women scantily clad… on topic and on message! Don’t be dumb and waste obvious opportunities like this.
Believe me or not, but photos need to be an essential part of your new Facebook updates or your Page will simply look too flat and uninteresting. For our friends like Tippin’s Pies, this is easy – just post a pie everyday! The rest of us are going to have to work to find things to post that are graphic in nature. I am not sure what path we will take at Fresh ID – at the very least we will need to put portfolio images in and find a way to make them more interesting looking than a mere screenshot.
What are you learning about this new view and have you had any trouble marketing from Facebook with these changes or is it too early to tell yet? Leave a message in the comments – we’d love to hear about what you’re experiencing as we keep swimming through the social media waters. I heard a great comment on Twitter yesterday, something like “we are NOT digital marketers, we are marketers in a digital world.” SO true! And it’s a jungle out there!