Facebook's Timeline is now available to all brands, and while some organizations may dread the change, Timeline presents an outstanding opportunity to nurture customer and follower relationships.
Businesses and organizations can proactively make the switch or begin making changes behind the scenes now, but on March 30th, the change to the Timeline layout will be mandatory. Here are some top Timeline tips every organization should know, with three keys to cultivating customer engagement:
1. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (especially when it's gigantic).
Use your main Timeline photo at the top of your business' Facebook page to connect with customers and potential ones. Post a photo of your staff so that customers can see the people behind your brand, or feature an image that reflects one of your businesses' core values, mission statements or a product or service.
- Size Matters: The dimensions for this cover photo are 851 x 315, so that means you'll need a photo (or a portion of one) whose width and height successfully fit within these confines.
- Important Information for Businesses: A brand's Timeline photo cannot include prices, purchase information, contact information, calls to action such as "Get it Now" or "Tell Your Friends," references to Facebook features such as "Like" or "Share," or arrows that point to a post or direct people to like the page.
2. Content is Key.
With the new Timeline view, the content a brand creates is front and center. Here are some things you'll need to know to better engage with customers:
- Tell Your Story: Use large milestone photos within your Timeline to tell the story of your business or organization, from how it all began, to how far you've come, and all the important things that happened in between (dimensions for milestone photos are 843 x 403). This is a fantastic way to connect with customers on a more personal level.
- Make an Introduction: Just below the Timeline photo will be your organization's About Us statement. Keep it short and make it count.
- Pinned Posts: Within Timeline, brands can pin a single important post to the top of their Timeline page for seven days. This means it will stay at the top left of your post feed until you unpin it or the seven day window expires.
- Popular Content Rises to the Top: With brand-generated stories now aggregated, the most "popular" content (meaning the content with the most likes or the most comments) will rise to the top. So now more than ever, social media monitoring and real-time customer service is imperative to react to any negative commentary before additional posts snowball.
- Dual-ling Columns: Where old Facebook brand pages feature only one column of posts scrolling down the middle of the page, the new Timeline layout features two, making it harder for organizations to easily visually follow and respond to all posts. This is where a social media monitoring tool or social media customer service software would be especially beneficial to make sure brands with a large number of followers and activity never miss a post.
- Starred Posts: With Timeline, brands can highlight important posts with a star icon that is located in the top right corner of individual posts, or they can do this through their admin page.
3. Top of Page Means Top of Mind.
When your organization makes the switch to timeline, you customers will see more than ever before.
- Friend Recommendations: Studies have shown that social media users tend to trust their friends and peers more than they trust brands. To further drive engagement, customers will not only be able to see which friends like your business or organization, but what they have said about your brand on Facebook. This will be located prominently in the top right of the second column of content.
- Order of Apps: Underneath your organization's cover photo will be four large rectangles for your Tabs and other applications. (If you don't yet have the Facebook Timeline, you'll see these listed at the top left of your page below your logo.) With the move, all applications will need new, larger application icons by March 30th (new dimensions are 111 x 74). These four primo spots will all re-orderable except for the Photos Tab which will always have the left spot. Other tabs beyond the first four will be available via a dropdown.
- Speaking of Tabs: With Timeline, Facebook has eliminated the ability to take potential fans to a custom landing page tab that encourages individuals to "Like" a page before they can continue to your Facebook wall. Facebook's intent is to even the playing field by discouraging "Like-gating" and also to encourage brands to create valuable content with every post.
Make the most of this fast-approaching Facebook change. It's a terrific opportunity to further enhance your customer engagement through photos and content that tell your organization's unique story. For inspiration, check out Timeline examples from brands like Threadless, Magnolia Bakery and Coca-Cola. Watch for Parature's Facebook Timeline coming soon with our "brand" new reveal.