Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Facebook Evolution - Timeline for Business

It's the start of a new phase for Facebook, as they roll out possibly the biggest change to their platform in almost 2 years. The 'Timeline' layout and functionality for business sites will become standard within a few weeks (31 March 2012). There's some great new things the new format brings, so it's time to embrace the change.

You may have noticed the timeline layout for personal pages was rolled out a few months back to a lot of upset users. Not really because of any significant reason, ut because it meant a shift in how they use facebook and the placement of some key components moved around a little. The business side is basically the same, but with some nice additions.

See a new timeline outline here »

The key changes.

1. Public interaction with the brand without being able to force a 'like'
In the current version, you are able to basically make it impossible for a consumer to interact with you publicly, by posting on your 'wall' etc. Now, all standard facebook interactions will be possible without requiring a user to like your brand. This does NOT extend to applications though, and you can still force users to like your brand before they see additional content.

2. Cover photo
Each brand will now be able to select a large cover photo for display at the top of their page. This looks great and helps a business to expand its brand graphically within the facebook framework unlike before. There are some rules however.
Cover images may not contain:
- Price or purchase information, such as "40% off" or "Download it at our website"
- Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page's About section
- References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
- Calls to action, such as "Get it now" or "Tell your friends"
Jon Loomer has a nice video outlining some of the new rules here.

Examples of some great cover images.
https://www.facebook.com/ford
https://www.facebook.com/cocacola
https://www.facebook.com/Microsoft
https://www.facebook.com/coles

3. Application icons
In the current version, reaching custom applications was restricted to a small navigation under the logo on the left side, but you were able to set a default 'tab' page. The new layout means that you no longer have content that loads automatically, and instead, you get to highlight 3 content pages (now called apps) via the app icons directly below the cover photo. You can hold up to 12 apps, but there's only space for 3 app icons.

4. 'Pinned' post or featured photo
Not to be confused with the new social sharing site Pinterest. A pinned article is a post (text, photo, video or a combination) that you can 'pin' to the top of your timeline for 7 days. A featured photo is one that spans the full width of the timeline.
The restrictions that apply to canvas artwork don't apply here, but remember, it's just a photo, so if you want to direct people to an app, you're going to have to include a link to it in the photo description.


5. New W-I-D-E App page
Unfortunately all app content is now on a separate page, however there are a few benefits.
1. More space. The tab page layout restricted content to 520 pixels, but the new app page layout is 810 pixels (that's over 55% more space). Since you're going off to another page, they have added some additional navigation to the top of the page so you can easily go back to the timeline or to anywhere else in your facebook account.

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Talk to us today about updating your facebook presence, or even helping you get set up.