Timeline for Brands: 10 Tips for Fan Pages

March 5th, 2012

Timeline for Facebook is here, and it has some very cool features for brands. While the way fans interact with brand pages remains to be seen, the new format encourages engagement– not just “likes”– and will allow brands more control over how their story is presented on Facebook. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Visual Appeal – The biggest change with Timeline is the nice big cover image. This is a great branding opportunity and license for creative thinking. Keep in mind that you can NOT include a call to action or “fan-gating” (forcing people to like your page) in your cover photo. Think of this spot as branding opportunity, not an ad. Nike does this beautifully:
  2. Your Story – The new format allow brands to tell their story by highlighting key events throughout history– product launches, events, major announcements,etc. This is really important and should be given some serious time and consideration. Ben & Jerry’s does a nice job with this.
  3. Highlight the Highlights – When you hover over the right corner of a post, you’ll reveal a star and a pencil icon. Use the star to enlarge the post (this is especailly relevant for photos and videos), giving it visual priority for your fans.
  4. Take Out The Trash – Along with the ability to highlight important milestones from the past comes the ability to hide irrelevant posts that serve no other purpose than filling up space. Use the aforementioned pencil icon to get rid of anything that doesn’t support your brand.
  5. Feature Posts – One new feature that I really like is the ability to “pin” a post prominently at the top of the timeline for up to a week. This is great if you have a big announcement or are running a contest. Use the pencil icon to pin a post.
  6. Content is King – This has always been true, but Timeline really emphasizes the point. Fill your page with content-rich material that gives your fans a reason to come back. Videos, photos, recipes, blog posts, and contests, for example, will keep things interesting. I recently read that 96% of fans never come back to your page– give them a reason!
  7. Apps are the new Tabs – The familiar tabs in the left-hand column are replaced by Apps in Timeline. These are located below the cover photo and can link to any pages or applications, such as contests, YouTube, or a contact form. Only 4 will display on your page at a time (the others are revealed when a user clicks on a little down arrow), so choose those 4 top apps wisely. Check out this design on LiveStrong:
  8. Dimensions to Know: The dimensions for the cover photo is 850 x 315. The profile pic (which appears in feeds) is 180 x 180. Apps are 111 x 74 pixels.
  9. Contests – Consider launching your new Timeline page with a contest or other app to pull fans into your story. Red Bull is running a “Timewarp” that encourages fans to dig into their new Timeline and offers prizes and incentives for doing so.
  10. Emphasis on Engagement – The success of a Facebook fan page lies with your engagement numbers, not the number of “likes” you receive. The average engagement rate is 2%, even for major brands, but I’ve seen rates as high as 40-60% (check out Irish, Truly)! Higher engagement means your fans are ambassadors for your brand, telling your story and selling your product for you– the holy grail of PR.

Making the most of your Facebook page with Timeline will take some time. Take advantage of the preview function that allows you to play around with layout, add important milestones, increase content, and nail down your apps. Timeline for brands automatically goes live March 30!

Here are a few articles I found helpful:

Facebook Timeline for Brands: 10 Things to Get Right, Social Media Today

What PR Pros Need to Know About Facebook Timeline for Brands, PR Daily

How to Use Timeline for Brand Pages, Techcrunch

Preparing for Facebook Timeline: Tips to Tweak Your Editorial Strategy, Digital Pivot