How to adjust new timeline for your business and benefit from it?
It’s a fact that from every 7 minutes spent online 4 minutes are spent on social sites from which 3 minutes are spent on Facebook. Based on these figures it’s abundant to state why having a good Fan page is relevant for any company. As a marketer, by now you’ve probably been spending hours and hours learning FBML and creating a perfect welcome page to make your Fan page worthwhile for your visitors. And just when you were starting to get the hang of it, Facebook is changing is changing the entire concept of company pages.
During the F8 Developers conference in San Francisco in September 2011 CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced the features of the new Facebook Timeline.
The new timeline is a completely different approach of how Facebook works for companies. So can this new timeline offer any benefits to your company or is it just the same thing all over again?
First of all, the new timeline allows much more creativity for your company page in terms of design possibilities. For example photos and applications are displayed with bigger sizes and in a higher resolution. Secondly, the navigation system has been changed. The year’s timeline allows you to see the entire history of company activities, since it has launched a Facebook page till nowadays. So, from now on a visitor will be able to easily access any past activity or post of a company on Facebook by only a few clicks. Facebook says it’s about telling the whole story of your company/product or service in a single page. In this case Facebook has done all the work for you, showing your customers how much you’ve invested in your Facebook page already and providing an archive of accessible content to your fans. Keep in mind that if there’s any old forgotten content which you don’t want your customers to see anymore, it’s time to locate and remove it.
The new timeline is available to both private profiles as company pages with only slightly different features.
Therefore, it’s good to be prepared and be aware of exactly what to expect from the new Facebook timeline. Let’s have a look at the new features and more importantly how those features can be applied best for your business.
1. No default page
Before timeline you could have new visitors of your Facebook page land on your customized Welcome page. According to the new Facebook timeline any visitor – fan or non-fan – lands on a single page of the timeline. Therefore it’s crucial to create an interesting and attractive design of your main banner to encourage visitors to become a fan right away and scroll down to see recent posts and activities of your company.
2. The timeline arrangement
This is the life of your company per year. There is a link on the right side which provides visitors opportunity to access any posts of your company from the year a page was started up to nowadays. You can easily highlight the most important events in the timeline of your company by selecting the star on the top on the post. These events will be adjusted to the whole width of the Facebook screen.
The new Facebook timeline enables you to tell stories about your company/product or service by sharing and highlighting your most valuable events, photos, videos or posts. Users can filter based on four different activities from the timeline wall: highlights, friends’ activity, post by page and post by others. On the right side of the timeline they can see which of their friends already like your page, what other visitors are posting/talking, total likes of your page and recommendations for the page on Facebook. On the left side of the timeline you can see your page’s activities with multimedia, links, photos, etc.
The detailed visualization of new timeline arrangement is shown in this image.
3. Main banner together with profile picture
As mentioned before a good banner is the key element of your page. From now on, the banner is your welcome page. Make sure the feelings and emotions you want to communicate to your fans on social media are visible. In some cases it’s a good idea to create a collage of different images which represent your company/product/service the best. See an example of the Nike+ Facebook banner (http://www.facebook.com/#!/nike). For the consultancy/services industry it can be a good idea to place the image of your team to the banner. Don’t forget to place your logo and maybe some pay off or short phrase which can trigger a visitor to like the page.
Please be aware that it’s not allowed to put any promotions or call-to-actions on the banner so the commercial element cannot be implemented that obviously. However it can be created on other customized Facebook applications.
A good example of an attractive and positive banner is implemented by Coca-Cola which you can see here: www.facebook.com/#!/cocacola?__adt=4
4. About company & customized Facebook applications
After the main banner comes a short overview: the ‘about the company’- section. In case you want to generate more traffic to your website or other sites it’s wise to insert links to these pages in this section. If you have a physical shop for instance you could mention working hours, address, telephone any other practical info. Additionally when people click on the ‘About company’ section they will be forwarded to the detailed information page where you can place all the additional information about your company/product or service, including geolocation with Bing maps.
Next the ‘About a company’ section allows you to show links to four customized subpages. These four main links are going to be an important part of your Facebook strategy. The photo application always remains on the 1st place of the line, however the other three pages are free to customize. Your Twitter account, videos, apps, reviews of your products or anything interesting what you want to tell to your fans can be displayed there. The customized pages will be opened inside Facebook on the page. Usually you can develop pages yourself by using HTLM code or just use the free Iframe application which is always available from the Facebook search. Another great advantage is that the maximum page width is increased to 850 px.
5. New admin panel
If you are an admin and want to know how your page performs and what’s new you can easily observe all notifications, new fans, messages and page tips from the new administration dashboard all-in-one. Moreover the dashboard allows you to measure the reach of your page by analyzing the insights. Also you can attract an audience by creating an advertising campaign.
6. Future trends and recommendations
So can the new timeline offer any benefits to your companies Facebook strategy? The Facebook timeline has the potential to be a huge treasure to organizations’ online presences. Before there wasn’t much motivation for fans to click around on a company’s Facebook page, aside from special offers or maybe a popular viral ad. Now, thanks to the new timeline, brands have a chance to provide a special surfing experience as never before. How much Facebook is facilitating the appearance of your page though, the content is still up to you.
An attractive Facebook page alone doesn’t bring you the ROI. The future trend for Facebook will be an integration of f-commerce/e-store into your Facebook page. Some companies have already started to integrate webshops and e-commerce elements into Facebook. A good example of a webshop implemented in the new Facebook timeline was made by this company selling cool t-shirts: Threadless www.facebook.com/#!/threadless
I will tell more on how to establish e-commerce on Facebook in my future blog posts.
For now it’s time to make your Fan page ready for the new timeline. From the 30th of March 2012 the new timeline page will be automatically generated from your old company fan pages. Good luck.
Nikul Patel is Manager of Operation & Technology Consultants in the field of Digital Marketing and Web Solutions at Gateway Group, which helps organizations to reach, engage and connect to achieve their vision for a better world in Web Technology.