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Facebook Timeline Marketing Tips and Ideas

Well, today is the day! Whether or not you like it, Facebook is dragging your business page into 2012 with the new timeline. We’ve been warned… we’ve seen that pesky ‘Timeline is coming – preview your page’ message. Many have ignored it, a few played with previews but didn’t publish, and now, THIS IS IT!

Odds are if you’ve been following web marketing news, you’ve already had your fill of Facebook Timeline posts. So, why am I writing a new one, you ask? Because I think we can talk not only about the changes (how big is that cover image?) but how we can leverage this update moving forward.  This requires we go through a little bit of the nuts and bolts of Timeline, but also examine how we can use these new features to better engage with our online audience.

Your Cover Image (and the Loss of the Welcome Tab)

Arguably the biggest change is the use of the cover image, at least in design. We no longer have the welcome tab, where we can direct new visitors to a catchy page and give them the myriad reasons why they should like us, from being your new best friend to getting great deals or learning new tricks. As marketers we’ve mourned this loss a little, but I think it will be a good shift in the end. The goal, it seems, is to further convince brands to meaningfully connect with people, and long-term that could be good for everyone. But short term, what do we do without our lovely customized welcome tabs?

We can still have tabs, but not the default landing sorts (more on tabs below). Facebook has given brands the much-talked-about cover image. That beautiful spot at the top of the page, 851 by 315 pixels — that’s ours to make a statement. A visually engaging, stay-on-this-page-and-check-us-out statement, which is not to be confused with a ‘BUY NOW!’ or ‘LIKE US!’ statement.  In fact, Facebook has you click that you understand that area is not meant for promotions. This includes:

  • 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”

To read the full list of banned uses for your cover image, visit Facebook’s Cover Suggestions.

So we know what not to do, but what to do can still be tricky. Think engaging over salesy, and check out what some of the big brands are doing effectively, like Coca Cola:

Coca Cola Facebook Timeline Cover Image

Coke is using lifestyle images to evoke their brand and engage their audience. Also check out their description and apps — that Home button takes you to their old welcome tab!

Tabs: Movin’ on Up

Tabs, and the apps they house, have moved up in the Facebook world!  Instead of being relegated to the sidelines, now 4 applications get top billing, right up at the top of the page. You have control over these — the first tab is always photos, but you can choose the others. If you’re not using many tabs or apps now, then you can choose from default content, like videos, likes, and a map to your location, for instance. But this is your chance to get more creative with your apps, if not now, soon.  You can choose an image to upload (check out Starbucks with their Starbucks Card, for instance).

If you have more than 4 apps, you will notice you get a little arrow for users to click through and see them all. Beware, though — don’t count on users searching for fun things here. It’s best to follow the standard practice of keeping it easily accessible with few clicks. Consider adapting your welcome tab, if you had one, to provide some interesting new info, and look for other ways to leverage apps (contests, custom company information, games, etc).

Your Past Posts, in Two Columns!

With two columns to house past updates and photos, now is the time to check for any skeletons in the Facebook history. Odds are there’s something that passed by months or even years ago that you’re really not so proud of, but hey, it was pushed down and out of sight before it was ever a problem. Well, now that information is much easier to see, so it’s a good time to take a once over all the information that’s migrated over and remove as needed.

It’s also a good time to keep an eye out for highlights. Highlights are for your top info that is worth spanning two columns for one super awesome post. Images work well as highlights, and anything with large content. If you have a really awesome quote that’s only a sentence, odds are it’s going to look goofy spanning two columns. Hover over the post and click the star icon to test it out.

Have a highlight that’s great but down on the page? Now you can pin it to the top so it’s not lost! The highlight and pin functionalities are big for marketing — we can now choose, between the cover image and a pinned highlight, what the first impression of our brand page is, and keep that standard for everyone visiting the page. If you’re feeling like the other changes are a chore, just wait… this will make it worth your while to review your posts and the new features.

Spend Time with Timeline

If you didn’t play around with a your unpublished page, do so now! It’s not too late to make changes. In fact, your social media strategy should include adapting and testing any changes to your page, so play with new apps, highlights, and pinned posts. Try different cover images and see what you like (and what your audience responds to). Get to know the new admin panel, which now appears at the top of your page and includes insights and more. And be sure to check back here for social media marketing posts on what’s working and not on Facebook.

Have a specific question? Leave it in the comments and we’ll answer you!

 

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