March 30th – Consider that date doomsday for any business page that isn’t prepared for their Facebook Fan Page to convert to Timeline. For those that aren’t familiar, Timeline is a new Facebook page layout that includes a new banner style cover graphic, simplified tab layout, and a new wall display that presents a more graphical representation of post chronology. It clashes with a lot of the ways businesses used to present their business on Facebook, and Facebook reps have announced that every business page will switch to Timeline layout on March 30th whether they’re ready or not.
You can make the switch right now if you want, and luckily a few major brands have already taken the initiative and showcased a few engagement-boosting Timeline strategies that we can all prepare to implement as the day of reckoning grows near.
Old Spice Dominates Timeline for Business
In our attempt to find the best approach for the new Timeline layout, a few brands really caught our attention. The one we saw leading the Timeline pack was Old Spice.
Aside from the fact that Old Spice already runs a marketing campaign based around humorously-outrageous in-your-face slogans and ridiculous characters, the technical strategies taken with their new page were particularly impressive. As non sequitur as some of their messages may be (I know that’s the point), it’s clear that they came into the new Timeline design with a concise plan as indicated by details of their page layout and design.
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Profile Image and Cover Photo
Old Spice wasted no time to get into the details. For example, their profile picture blends with the new “cover photo” for a seamless look (notice how the line of the volcano isn’t broken even though the profile image is a different graphic).
Basic Content and Tabs Layout
In addition to their Photoshop foresight, the Old Spice social media team also set up their Tabs and “About” content for easy consumption. You’ll notice that they have a condensed company description to fit in the space below their profile image and have also laid out their tabs (yes those are tabs) to advertise their best content, including videos, and likes (and Bear Deodorant Protection).
One of the most impressive techniques used on the Old Spice page is how they took advantage of time-tags in Timeline by post-dating several business milestones (see below for example). If you scroll through their posts you can see that there are some posts dated in the 1980’s, 70’s, and as far back as 1938 – each with hilariously time-relevant images and stories. This is because the new Timeline functionality lets you associate a time and date independent of the actual time of each post (even if the date well-precedes the invention of Facebook). The result is the ability to mark the historical milestones of your business and let visitors learn your story as they scroll through your updates.
Other Pages of Inspiration
These brands also showcased some solid Timeline strategies that pre-Timeliners can learn from:
Who’s Blowing It?
Don’t feel bad if you’re behind the time(line)s because there are still some major brands that aren’t quite up to speed. McDonald’s, for example, still hasn’t made the switch as of the posting of this blog.
Even the mighty Coca Cola has moved to Timeline but forgot to get rid of their “Home” tab which now links to a misplaced welcome graphic. Where is that button, again?
Prep Your Business Page for Facebook Timeline
As with most new online marketing technologies, the businesses that are first to adapt will be ahead in the long run. There are still a few weeks before Timeline takes over, but here are a few simple strategies you can employ now to get ahead of the curve.
Customize Your Profile and Cover Photo
You don’t exactly have to merge the two as Old Spice has done, but it’s a good idea to consider how the two images will interact graphically. Starbuck’s, for example, opted to preserve the minimalist nature of their logo, which lays cleanly over the cover graphic without clashing with it. We optimized our Rightlook Creative page with a blend of both. Sure, these details sound meticulous, but if you’re going to design a new Cover Image anyway, you may as well impress your customers with a look that works.
*Note: Facebook has set a few guidelines for your cover photo regarding the messages you can use it to send. It looks as though the days of promoting coupons and discounts are over (you’ll have to use dedicated tabs instead) and the cover graphic can’t be used to solicit likes. Read the exact copy below and let us know your own interpretation.
Facebook Says: “This space is not meant for promotions, coupons, or advertisements. Your cover photo should not be primarily text-based or infringe on anyone else’s copyright.”
Optimize Your About Copy
It’s the basic description every customer is going to look at to get a quick definition of your business, so make it tasteful, clear, and impactful. Also keep it short – it looks like you only get a max of 25 characters for the content that shows without expanding the “About” section, so keep your first paragraph on the short side and play with the length so the text displayed on your profile doesn’t get truncated. *Another idea is to do as Macy’s and Coldplay have done and include a link to your homepage to boost fan conversion.
*If your business is associated with a physical location, Timeline automatically funnels that information into your about section as seen with the Rightlook Creative Facebook page. If location information is not provided, it pulls from the basic business information labelled “about.”
Customize Your Tabs
Your side panel tabs for content like videos, map locations, and other apps are now displayed on the right under your cover photo. Likes are also displayed here and only 4 tabs are shown without clicking to expand. The “Photos” tab is stationery, so you only have 3 editable tab positions. Be sure you don’t bury your best content by showcasing your most engaging content in the top 3 favorite tabs. Also make sure to ditch any “Welcome Page” tabs to prevent leading customers to out-of-place graphics like Coca Cola has done with their “Home” tab (whoops).
*We also noticed that your “Likes” count is not a stationery tab, so you are able to hide your fan count in case your numbers aren’t something to brag about at this point.
Write Your History
Take advantage of the time-tagging feature of Timeline like Old Spice (and many other major brands). Telling customers you’re proud of your story is a great tool for engagement and it also builds your brand authority. If you have any old pictures from the early days or special milestones, post them under the appropriate dates so your fans can experience the illusion of travelling through the history of your business. At least be sure to date your founding with a backdated post telling the story of how you got started.
One handy feature we noticed is that you’re able to “Highlight” posts as an admin, which enlarges them and makes them more visible to your visitors. We have yet to find specific uses for this feature, but it is sure to come in handy as a way to showcase posts and fan interactions that are especially engaging.
The Future of Timeline
Just like the ever-evolving search engine algorithms, internet marketers have to stay constantly aware of the technologies changing how businesses reach their customers.
The king of social media was born to celebrate the lives of individuals, but Facebook continues to innovate new ways for businesses to get in on the conversation. Timeline marks a new point of convergence between personal profiles and business pages, and the many overlaps in visuals and functionality give brands better ways to craft personal experiences for their fans. Shedding the old format of business pages and embracing the latest features of Timeline will be the most effective ways for businesses to show personality, build loyalty, and be more than just a business.