Facebook, the new Timelines, and what this means for Page Owners

The new Facebook Timeline for Profiles -- will probably be a reality for Pages, too, soon

Well, they did it again.

Facebook will be rolling out Timelines to users over the next few weeks. Developers, like me, have access to the new Timeline right now, to experiment with it.  Timelines will also most likely be impacting and changing Facebook Pages.  I know a lot of you are using Facebook Pages, so here are my preliminary recommendations for getting ready for these changes.

1. The look of your Page(s) will change, and so will the branding

The new profile format is visual and wide and will probably come to Pages in the same format. Get ready for the look of your page to change (sigh – again).  It will be 720 pixels wide.  You can still have the square profile photo, but you’re also going to need a 720 pixel branded banner image — Facebook calls these “covers” for your Timeline.  You might as well work on that now.

2. If Facebook is important to your brand, then a camera is your new best friend

Get ready to share lots of photos as updates  — but they have to be higher resolution because so far I’m seeing fuzzy for low res images, if you highlight them on your timeline.

Why do you want to share photos?  Because people will tag them (if they’re the right photos) and when they do, that’s an interaction with the update that gives it an “edge” in the EdgeRank score and increases your post’s likelihood of appearing in the newsfeed of your fans.

Remember, featured photos will appear 720 pixels wide and be cropped, unless you upload the exact size.

3. Ditto for video

Some writers are saying video is even more heavily weighted in EdgeRank than photos.  In other words, it’s better.  Why?  People tend to react, like, comment, or share video more than almost anything else.   So, get ready to upload lots of video, rather than text updates or links.

4. No more auto feeds of blogs to Notes

Facebook wants your fans to be interacting with you in “real time.”  They are discouraging and soon eliminating feeds from other websites.   Soon, you will not be able to feed your WordPress blog posts to Facebook Page notes.  My guess is that the same will be true for Twitter.  You might as well stop auto-feeding your blog to Notes because Facebook is going to take away that Page privilege pretty soon, anyway.

5. Engage in real time …. forget links to articles

Do you remember where posting a “Link” on your Facebook profile used to be an option — and then this month, it just kind of disappeared?  And then, in its place, were polls?  Yeah, well the new status Timeline for profiles doesn’t have an option for links, either, and my guess is this will be the same for Pages.

The kinds of Facebook Page updates that will get ranked higher and have a better chance of making an appearance in your fans’ (…friends…followers…whatever) newsfeeds are photos, videos, and highly engaging, in the moment updates (seriously, about the weather or whatever is headline news), and polls, and what not.  If your Facebook Page updates are not receiving lots of likes and comments, expect to have your Page put into Facebook purgatory where your updates will not show up, or not that often.

If you’re going to post a text update, a good idea is to ask for interactions.  Depends on how bold you want to be about this.  You can be direct and ask for the like.  You can ask people to respond to a question or leave comments.  It’s up to you.

6. Get out your wallet

Facebook is engineering it so that Facebook Pages will be “encouraged” to purchase advertising and sponsored stories to drive traffic to their Facebook Pages, because, let’s face it, organic results in news feeds are going to be hard to come by.

7. Build an App

Pages will also be competing in the news feed with Apps, which are getting more privileged positioning.  If you can think of an App to relate to your business, go for it.  You can build it right on Facebook.

8. Liking was just the beginning

Fans are going to be able to “read” a book, “watch” a video, “eat” a burger.  I know, we do that already.  But we’ll be doing it virtually, online.  Just like we “like” stuff now.

I know, I don’t get it either.  I mean I get it, I just don’t see the appeal.  Somehow, it’s an algorithim linked to advertising, that much I do know.

9. If you’re using third-party tools, like HootSuite, to update your Page stop now

I’ve said it before for other reasons.  Now, it appears that third-party (non-Facebook) applications that automatically bring content to your newsfeed, such as HootSuite and possibly Twitter as well, will bring your EdgeRank down, and significantly so.  You don’t want that.  You do want to be in people’s news feeds.  So, stop using those for your Facebook Page updates.

It’s anybody’s guess…

Anyway, your Facebook Page, I’m sorry to say, will be more difficult to administer and it will be more difficult for your fans to navigate, in my opinion.  The changes are going to keep social media consultants busy, but I can see small businesses, and non brick and mortar businesses, throwing up their hands.   It will be interesting to see what develops.

Follow Fletcher Prince on Facebook

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About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on September 23, 2011, in Facebook Tips and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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