April 9, 2012 nitroint

Has Your Business Transitioned to Facebook Timeline?

The new Facebook timeline is here. Whether you like it or not, your Facebook personal page, and more importantly your business page now is on timeline. That means that if you haven’t made changes, your page probably looks terrible right now!

Before you start groaning about the additional work (or expense) that the new Facebook architecture demands of you, rest assured that these changes are awesome for your business. We’ve always complained about the user experience on the old Facebook business pages, so we’re not cryin’ now that they’ve gone bye-bye.

The first thing you’ll notice when you go to your page now is that your profile picture is still there, but it is now a square. If you had a tall banner before, you’ll need to design and upload a new profile pic. If you haven’t uploaded a banner image, start brainstorming! This new header image area is possibly the most exciting development visually on the page. Now, you get 851 x 315 pixels of prime real estate to promote and brand your business. Still mourning the old Facebook? I didn’t think so.

Four Things You Can’t Do With Your New Facebook Banner

1. Absolutely no contact information. That means you can’t put telephone numbers, street addresses, or website URL’s in your banner image.

2. No prices or special offers or discounts. I guess this is their way of preventing business pages from looking like a flea market.

3. No call to action. If you aren’t sure what that means, it is basically this: you cannot have text that encourages the user to ‘do’ anything. So, no “text yummy to 57745 to get a free yoghurt” or “call now to get a free yellow widget”.

4. No references or arrows pointing to the like button. I know, I know, we are all going to miss those gorgeous “Click LIKE to Get Instant Access!” graphics. Don’t panic though, there is still a home for your forced likes. Keep reading.

Bemoaning the Loss of Your Custom Facebook Mini-Site?

If you were like us and customized your Facebook welcome page with an iframe mini-site, you will notice that it is no longer the right size. Your old mini-site can still be found when you click the welcome tab, but now you get 810px to play with vs the old 520px. Don’t see the welcome tab? Just to the right of the fourth tab you’ll see a little downward arrow icon you can click to expand and view all your tabs.

If you built a fan gate page to force likes, you’ll quickly notice that it doesn’t work anymore. The ability to encourage likes is not entirely eliminated though, as I will explain in a minute. Take a moment to mourn the loss of your old iframe mini-site (that never felt quite right jammed into the middle column) and get ready to embrace the new and improved tabs and pages!

Customizing Your Facebook Tabs and Pages

Kudos to Facebook for ditching the hideous old school left column menu and replacing it with tabs! The tabs are fully customizable, and yes, each one can be a call to action if you so choose. Each tab is actually an “app”, which when clicked will open a new full width (810px) page.

The possibilities for building custom pages are limited only by your imagination. You can install an app to display your twitter feed, embed custom HTML or WordPress, or use the Facebook search field (type in ‘iframe’) to find out-of-the-box iframe apps. On these pages you can reference the ‘Like’ button and encourage your visitors to click it to enter contests or reveal hidden content. So, go get clever with a QR code and send your customers to a custom tab page and keep incentivizing those all important ‘Likes’.

One thing hasn’t changed: Facebook is just as confusing as ever for non-developers. Unless you are really savvy or love a hair pulling 72 hour challenge, the more advanced customizations are still just as non-intuitive. For that reason, installing page tab apps or customizing HTML/Wordpress for 810px is beyond the scope of this article, but please contact us if you need help.

If you’d like to see a creative use of the new layout check out: http://www.facebook.com/livestrong

Wondering how to control the images for your tabs? Remember that the first tab for photos cannot be moved. It will always display your most recently uploaded photo. All of your other tab images can be changed by going into your admin panel (top right) and click manage » edit page » apps » edit settings » change image.

Customizing Your Facebook User Name URL

If you haven’t done it already – do it now! Claim your username and get your custom URL (like the one I just gave you for LiveStrong above). No one is going to remember the cumbersome default page name, and you won’t want an ugly URL on your promotional materials. Claiming your new username will produce a URL that should look like this: http://www.facebook.com/YourBusinessName

Go here to get started: http://www.facebook.com/help/pages/usernames

A Few Tips for Managing Your Timeline

When you roll over a timeline box, you’ll notice two icons in the the top right corner. Use the star to ‘Highlight’ a post or make it full width. Doing this calls extra attention to any premium featured content that you want to promote. Use the pencil to change the date of a post, hide or remove it, mark it as spam, or add a location.

Your ‘Likes’ now show up on the top right of your timeline.  Up to 5 ‘Likes’ are displayed at a time and will rotate position when the page is refreshed. Likes serve as social proof and can be very powerful in attracting new prospects and leads for your business.

How Often Should You Update Your Facebook Business Page?

The hundred dollar question! I completely understand that as a business owner you are busy, and maintaining a Facebook page is an added burden to your workload. I also get it that you didn’t go into business so you could become a social media marketing guru. Solution? 2-5 updates per week is totally acceptable for most businesses. Present your Facebook subscribers with news updates from your field, links to your recent blog posts, and make sure you interact with other businesses by liking their content.

Nothing is worse than a stagnant or entirely neglected Facebook page. Doing the bare minimum – 1 update per month – will at least let your users know that you are still in business, even if you aren’t the most exciting Facebook power user. What is expected of you will depend on your specific market. For example, a dentist doesn’t need to be posting 3 times per day, and no one wants to read about restorations all day long anyway. On the other hand, a high end consignment shop can post their best new inventory as it arrives.

So, Why Should Business Owners Care About Facebook Anyway?

Put it this way, as of Feb 2012, the number of Facebook users worldwide had surpassed 850 million. Embracing Facebook isn’t just about servicing customers and lead generation, it’s about staying relevant. It’s a fact that social media is the future and it presents a marketing opportunity all businesses should get excited about.

Do you need help promoting your business on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and other popular social media websites? We can help you grow your followers and build a powerful base of motivated people you can access to market your products and services. Visit our page on social media marketing.

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