by Jacob Firuta @ March 24, 2012
Are you ready for the new brand pages?

The new way of presenting your Facebook fan page – the timeline, is about to roll out on all the fan pages, whether you are ready for the change or not. There’s still some time so get yourself prepared without even breaking a sweat!

The change

All Facebook brand pages will automatically convert to the new design on March 30th. The timeline has been available for the public and their personal profiles for quite some time now and people had a lot of time to play with the new feature. Many really innovative timelines have appeared since the change went live on personal profiles.

You might wonder what is going to change on your brand page and what it would take to create one. The following paragraphs will guide you through the process of redesigning your brand page and showcase the changes, while stressing their use in your social media efforts.

Show yourself to the world

To start off, you will need a cover photo. It’s the most eye-catching part of your new brand page. Guys at prepared a template that should make it easier for you to design your cover photo. The cover photo is 851px (width) by 315px (height). You should also remember that your profile picture is now an integral part of the timeline. This can be utilized to create a cover photo and profile picture combo that would complement each other (e.g. Ford and Pizza Hut have managed to do this quite well).

The profile picture should be at least 180x180px. It shouldn’t be too detailed since it will be presented in a resized size of 32x32px in all your posts. A typical approach is to place your brand logo here, since it’s easily recognizable by your customers.

Tell your story

When your new cover and profile photos are ready, the next step is to fill out important information about your company. You can highlight photos, likes and apps that you think are important for your brand.

Amanda Webb, from Sabre Hospitality Solutions, suggests that you should drive your visitors attention to the apps you want them interact with. Doing so will allow you increase your visitors engagement and further advertise your brand. When creating the graphics for the apps you might want to remember that the new thumbnails are 110x74px, which is way bigger than the old app icons.

Companies can post specific milestones they have achieved on their timelines, as well as photos showing the behind the scenes side of their business, giving it more personal look. Additionally, it is now easier to drive visitors attention to specific events happening in the company by pinning them down on the timeline.

starbucks fanpage

Starbucks pins information about their achievements and current events.

You can modify the content of your timeline as you wish by using the pen and star icons on your timeline posts. The pen will bring the specific post higher up so it will stay visible longer than other, less relevant posts. This allows for freely managing the contents of your timeline.

Use the star to make specific events or posts wide and more visible for your visitors. Use this feature when you have something special to share, for example, you won a particular award or you have a really great story to share.

Staring a post will make it wide while pinning a post moves it up on the timeline.

Amy Kattan, Socialnomics, describes the new timeline as a way to provide your fans with background knowledge and create a personal bond with them. Every company has some interesting stories to share and now it’s the perfect moment to do so! Sharing even a simple story about a company trip or special event will spark a lot of interest in your fans. People love to learn that their favorite brand or company is made of real people with real personalities and real life stories to tell.

Keep in touch

The new timeline allows for a more direct way of connecting with your visitors. They can send you direct messages, which creates a whole new way of earning a loyal following. Replying to a direct message takes little time, but can mean a whole lot to a satisfied customer. Let your fans know that you appreciate the feedback and try to respond to all their messages.

Customers can comment on specific posts letting you know what they think about the current events regarding your company. If you manage to create the kind of following, where users share their views and opinions on your wall, you are one step closer to creating a powerful and recognizable brand. The word will eventually spread, more and more people will talk about it, sharing the news on their own Facebook walls. Encourage your visitors and interact with them.

Mixed Opinions

There’s a lot of opinions on the topic, both in favor and against the changes. According to Christine Erickson from Mashable, the change could be a potential downfall for small companies that don’t have big content creation capabilities. You can read a lot of negative comments under articles on Facebook Timeline – people are criticizing various aspects of the change and worry that it will affect all the small companies out there that lack the resources to have dedicated social media teams on board.

I believe the change can do more good than bad. Every time there is a major shift in a service people will get angry, they grew accustomed to certain parts of the service and now they have to go through the learning process again. However, timeline offers greater possibilities in terms of telling your story to customers. Even if it may take a bit longer to set it up and then manage, it’s certainly worth it.

Learn from the best

There are a ton of companies that have already updated their Facebook brand pages with the new design. We know from own experience that this process may take way longer than expected, so if you are still looking for design ideas, here are some Facebook Timeline cover examples of our favorite designs that we stumbled upon when doing research.

ESPN showcases some of the fan-made signs that can be visible in their transmissions.

Porsche uses the cover photo to advertise their new Boxster.

Monster Energy displays their ties to and support of extreme sports.

If you already have a timeline published or you plan to do so soon, be sure to share it with us. We can’t wait to see what our readers have come up with!

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