Facebook Timeline: An Overview

Facebook has switched things up on marketers yet again. What does the launch of the timeline layout for Facebook pages mean for you? Here is a quick overview.

Cover Image. Facebook pages now have a gigantic banner as the main feature. This image should be something dynamic, compelling and a good representation of your brand. Facebook has mandated that cover images can not have a call to action like “donate” or “sign up now.” Here is a full list of guidelines for new Facebook cover images.

Duke University Facebook Page Cover Image

Duke University Facebook Page Cover Image

 

Highlights Feed. When visitors come to your Page now, they will see a mix of stories from you, your community and their friends. This is different from the more linear posts that used to appear on your Page. Visitors can opt to see different types of stories once they are on your page.

Drop-down menu for users to select a type of feed to view on your Page

You now have the option to “highlight” a post, making it span the entire width of your page. Use this function when you post great visuals or have a story that you want extra attention drawn to.

In the settings, you can prevent random users from being able to post to your page and prevent their timeline from showing mention of your brand. However, those posts will still be visible to a user’s friends. If you do receive negative posts or spam you would like to remove, hover your mouse over them and chose to hide or delete the content.

Apps. Custom applications were a big part of content strategy for brands on the old Facebook page layout. Now there are no more default tabs to direct new visitors to automatically – marketers traditionally have used these landing tabs on Facebook pages to make conversions with non-fans. Apps still appear, but they’ve been moved from the left navigation to the right side of the About section. They appear with icons instead of text descriptions and only four can appear above the fold, with the first app being permanently dedicated to Photos. Now that apps have less impact, brands and companies need to draw new fans in with their cover image, highlights and great content.

Profile picture. The new profile picture is limited to 180 pixels square. That means that when it’s shrunk down to a thumbnail, it will be very small. Don’t use anything too busy or detailed – save gorgeous imagery for your cover image.

Pinned Content. A new functionality in Timeline is the ability to pin content and posts. When you pin a post, it remains in the top left-hand corner of your page for up to seven days. Pinning gives you control of the first content users see when they visit your Page. When you’re pinning content, keep in mind the highlight function as well.

Drop-down menu to select pinned content

Milestones. The Milestone feature is a fun one, especially for higher education. It allows us to tell the story of special dates and events in our history, present and future. Things you might want to add to your Milestones are your founding date, other big accomplishments and any upcoming events. These Milestones show up across the entire width of your page with a little flag in the corner. Facebook is likely to favor this type of content, which will result in more impressions. Don’t be afraid to use the Milestone feature whenever it feels appropriate!

Messaging. Page Timelines allow users to send direct, private messages to your Page. You can’t proactively message users – you can only respond to incoming messages. The messaging feature is limited to two outgoing messages for every one message you receive. This is Facebook’s way of preventing brands from spamming people. Use the message function to have valuable offline conversations with your community.

Get started!

So now that you have a grasp on the changes, how do Duke University Facebook Page administrators jump in to make changes and go live with the Timeline layout? First, take a deep breath. Now, set aside some time to work through this checklist before March 30:

1. Visit the Timeline for Pages Preview Manager. Select to add Timeline to your pages and you’ll enter a nice limbo curation period where you and the other page admins can preview changes, but your work won’t be public until you hit the “publish now” button.

2. Load a cover image. The dimensions are a giant 851 x 315 pixel banner. If you don’t have your own art, email cara.rousseau@duke.edu for a selection of Duke University branded cover images. These cover images will be available to download from the Duke Style Guide soon.

3. Make sure your profile picture/logo is centered and scaled to fit as a thumbnail.

4. Take a look at your “About” section to make sure you have a short, punchy description filled in.

5. Create milestones for important events in your past, present and future.

6. Test out the highlight and pin functionality.

7. Edit your apps by using the drop-down menu to the right of the titles, click the “+” button to add any custom apps, and then hover your mouse over the apps to select the pencil icon to move them around. Make sure to put your most important apps above the fold.

8. Do a scan for any negative or potentially embarrassing posts and remove them.

Now you’re ready to publish your Facebook Timeline for Pages!

Make sure to comment with a link to your new and refreshed Page.

 

 

About Cara Rousseau

Manages social media for the Office of News and Communications and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, and leads social media strategy for the university.

One Response to Facebook Timeline: An Overview

  1. make a facebook cover October 30, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    Excellent tutorial! It’s on my backburner to do list for way too long now, so I should really do this ASAP! The tutorial will come in very handy. Thank you for an outstanding explanation.

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