As you would know, Facebook has rolled out a new version of Pages or Fan Pages – starting March 30, all Facebook Fan pages would be converted into the new “timeline” format.
If you have been active on your personal Facebook profile, you would have seen this timeline view on the profiles of some of your friends. Well, you might have converted your profile to timeline view!
Now, Facebook is extending this to the fan pages. You have time till March 30 to keep the old page, after which all Facebook pages would be converted to timeline view. Of course, you have the option to convert to it before that.
What is the “Timeline” view?
As the name suggests, the timeline view is a chronological listing of your posts on your wall. Here is an example:
As you can see, this looks quite different from the traditional fan pages we are used to seeing:
Here is a list of what you see on the new timeline view fan pages (a detailed explanation of all changes follows):
- The screen is split in the middle, and shows a line. This is the “timeline”, and you can see posts on either side of this timeline.
- On the top of the page, you can see a HUGE image. This is the cover photo of the fan page.
- On the right side of the cover photo, you see dates. Clicking on any of these would take you directly to posts from that time.
- Below the cover photo, on the left, you can see the profile image.
- Below the cover photo, on the right, you see the “Like” and “Message” buttons.
- Below these buttons, you see small rectangular pictures, which are custom tabs.
Now let’s dive deeper, and see ALL the features of the new Facebook fan pages!
What has changed?
Now let’s come to the most important part of the discussion – what exactly has changed? How are the new timeline-view enabled Facebook fan pages different from the old fan pages?
Here is a comprehensive description of all the changes.
No landing on custom tabs
The most talked about change is the fact that you can no longer control what people see when they come to your fan page.
Earlier, the default landing page for your visitors was the wall of your Facebook fan page. However, you could set up the page in such a way that people would land on a specific tab when they visited your page. Why? You could include any relevant marketing message – you could talk about some sale, or collect emails for your newsletter.
Now, this won’t be possible. The only place that people can see when they come to your page is the default timeline view.
Tip: If you are advertising on Facebook, you can still have people land on a custom tab.
Cover photo / Header image
This is the first thing that would hot you when you visit the new fan pages – a HUGE photo at the top of the page.
If you have been in the internet marketing space for even a few months, you would realize how great an opportunity this is! You can use this space to convey a lot to your fans and visitors.
Here are the specs of the cover photo:
- Display dimension: 851 pixels by 315 pixels
- Minimum upload dimension: 399 pixels wide (image would be stretched to fit)
- Maximum upload dimension: No limit (you would be able to choose the portion of the image that is displayed)
But before you start jumping with joy, and start thinking about putting large arrows to the “Like” button or think about putting a big “Buy Now” button there, please remember that there are strict guidelines for this image. This photo is your opportunity to enhance your brand, and can not be used for a marketing message. The guidelines ensure this. Here are some of the restrictions:
- The image can’t have arrows pointing to the “Like” button
- It can’t suggest or encourage people to like your page
- It can’t have any contact information, including your URL
- It can’t have price or purchase related information
- It can’t have a call to action
If there are so many restrictions, what can you do? Well, the uses of this image are only limited by your imagination!
As you can see in the fan page for the Hard Rock Cafe, you can have images of your products (of course, without any price or purchase info). You can also use the cover photo in conjunction with the profile picture to make your fan page attractive, like the U Stand Out fan page below:
You can also use the fan page’s cover photo to convey a message, like what you see on Barack Obama’s fan page:
Just below the cover photo, on the left side, is the profile photo of the fan page.
Earlier, you could have a profile image measuring up to 180 pixels by 540 pixels. This image used to be at the top left corner of the page. Now, this image lies below the cover photo, and is displayed at 125 pixels by 125 pixels.
Unlike the cover photo, there are no restrictions on the contents of this image. So you can have an arrow or a call to action in this image:
However, it is best to have something related to your brand – your logo, a popular product or a person’s picture here.
As you saw in the image for “U Stand Out”, you can play with the profile picture and the cover photo to create a great effect.
Earlier, you could have several pictures – features photos – at the top of the page, with different URLs associated with them. So people would click on these pictures, and then on the URLs next to them to go to a page you wanted them to go.
Now, there thumbnails are completely gone. You can still display thumbnails, but they are now associated with custom tabs, and are displayed below the cover photo.
Change in the position of apps / Custom tabs
Earlier, the list of your applications or apps used to be just below your profile picture. Now, this has moved to a new location – it is displayed as a photo strip below the cover photo.
A maximum of 4 applications can be displayed here at a time. One of these – the left most – is the “Photos” app, and can’t be changed. For the other 3 positions, you can have any app displayed. You have full freedom in choosing the image for each app, and yes, it can be a call to action.
How many apps can you have here? A maximum of 12. Four are displayed by default, and the remaining would be displayed on pressing the little down arrow next to these. Here is an example:
Clicking on any of these images takes you to a custom tab, and there is a BIG opportunity here as well! On a custom tab, you can have anything that you want – it can be a static HTML page created using applications like Static HTML Tabs, or it can be a fully featured flash site custom designed or designed using apps like Wix.
What’s even more interesting is the fact that the area that you get to create this page / banner / application has increased significantly. Earlier, this used to be 520 pixels wide, but now it is 810 pixels wide – which means you get a lot more real estate to convey your message. Here is an example:
No photo strip
In the older version the Facebook fan pages, there was a photo strip at the top of the page. No, that strip is no more there.
Your viewers can see all your photos by clicking on the “Photos” app, which is the first app on your page. Like we saw, your other apps can have their own pictures.
Introduction of messaging system
A very major change in Facebook fan pages is the introduction of the messaging system.
Earlier, there was no way for your fans to contact you via Facebook – the only option was to post on your wall, which means no transaction related or other sensitive details could be posted there.
Now, your fans can message you privately – the message would be viewable only to the sender and you. That’s neat, eh? This can be used for one-on-one communication with your fans, and ca be utilized to address grievances before they get out of hand!
Note: These messages can only be initiated by a fan, and not by the fan page owner.
If you have a lot of fans and you fear that the messages would overburden you, you can disable it by going to Admin Panel > Manage > Edit Page, and un-checking the “Show “Message” button on …” check box.
Admin panel with the timeline view in Facebook fan pages
That brings us to the Admin Panel, which is another major introduction in the new timeline based Facebook fan pages.
The admin panel is your go to place for seeing what is happening with your page. Here, you would be able to see a snapshot of:
- Notifications for you
- Messages for you
- New likes for your page
- “Insights” for your page
- Page tips
Highlighting a post
There are many times when you want to highlight or prioritize a post. For example, if there is an announcement for an upcoming even or sale, you would like it to be more prominent. Also, you would not like it buried below all other regular posts.
Till the introduction of these new timeline based Facebook fan pages, there was no way you could highlight your posts. Now, there are two ways you can do it!
1. Pinning a post
Now, you can “pin” a post to the top of your page by using the “Pin to Top” feature. When you pin a post, it remains on the top left side of your page – even if other posts are made after it!
This is a great way to make important posts more permanent and prominent! You can use this feature for announcements or event notices.
When a post is pinned to the top, you can see a small ribbon on the top right corner of the post:
2. Starring a post
Another way of highlighting a post is by “starring” it. Starring a post makes it span the entire page (against just half the width of a regular post), so when someone is scrolling down a page, the post catches the attention of the reader.
If the post has a photo or a video, it grabs even more attention. Here is an example:
Another change brought about in the timeline based Facebook fan pages is the concept of “milestone events”.
Now, you can add an event as a milestone event – it can be the start of your company / website, achievement of a major goal, release of a product – anything under the sun.Milestones can be added just like posts, and have details like headline, location, date and details of the milestone.
Milestones get highlighted by a flag, and therefore draw attention of your page visitors. A milestone with an image draws even more attention.
The best part about milestones is that it need not have happened after you created your Facebook fan page or after joined Facebook. It can even be from the time when Facebook didn’t exist! In fact, it can be any point in time since the yea 1000!
As you can see, the changes brought about in the “timeline view” of the Facebook fan pages are huge! They would have far reaching impact, and would help us connect more with our fans.
Have I missed anything? Please let me know through your comments. And if you have liked reading this page, please “Like” it on Facebook!
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