If you have a Facebook Page, you’ve probably already heard that Timeline changes take effect on March 30. These changes will impact the way you organize and present information on your company's Facebook page, which naturally will impact the message it conveys. At Vodori, we've been thinking a lot about what these changes will mean for brands—in particular for healthcare brands, which represent a large portion of our clients.
Pages are no longer able to select a custom landing page—all fans are directed to the Wall, which is now called the “Timeline.” At the top of the Timeline is a cover photo (more about this below). This redesign relegates the profile picture to a smaller corner. Due to this shrinkage, if your profile picture contained any text content (such as contact info, or Important Safety Information in the case of a healthcare brand), that content may need to be shifted elsewhere.
2. Cover photos:
These will be 851x315 pixels, and will span the top of your new timelines. We highly recommend you create a custom image that reflects your brand’s identity; this is your "welcome" sign, the first thing users will see when they come to your Facebook page. If you don't have the means to create a custom image, Facebook will accept any image at least 399 pixels wide. Bear in mind, however, that your image will be stretched to fill designated cover photo space, and small ones could become quite distorted.
Additionally, cover photos cannot contain promotional information, such as calls to action, arrows pointing to the Like button, or your contact info (which should live in the About section). This is not intended as ad space, but rather as a place for you to put a face to your brand.
Pages only display four tabs initially: the Photos tab, and three others selected by the page administrator. Users must manually expand the custom tabs to view the rest. Admins can specify which tabs appear first and which appear after expansion. Brands will need to think carefully about which sections best communicate their message and deserve to be featured up front.
The Photos tab is permanently set to the first slot (the Likes tab is also mandatory, but it can be shifted out of the "front four"). Combined with the prominence of the cover photo, this suggests a trend towards heavy visual elements. These may not currently be the strong suit of your brand's online presentation (as is often the case in the health care industry). Nevertheless, developing a strong and relevant visual sense is more important to your digital presence than ever.
4. Timeline columns:
The Timeline itself consists of two columns which display your posts. Your friend activity appears at the top of the right column.
The Timeline also allows you to "pin" posts to the top of the column for up to seven days at a time, letting you showcase the most relevant material or links. Either presents an attractive option for meeting the disclosure requirements of a highly regulated industry like healthcare. Critical or mandatory information can be pinned to the top of a timeline column, where it remains conspicuous without overwhelming the brand message on the rest of the page.
5. Highlight posts:
Page administrators can now choose to highlight a specific post, expanding it across both the left and right Timeline columns. Hover over the upper right corner of the post to reveal the star icon to highlight that post.
Unlike a pinned post, which gets promoted to the top of the timeline, a highlighted post will maintain its position within the timeline. It will simply expand, which may make it easier to read a block of text or view a horizontally-aligned picture.
Pages have the ability to publish “Milestones,” which appear full-width across the Timeline. It’s possible to outline a company’s history as far back as desired via the Timeline. This is a good way to build trust by emphasizing the company's track record—a paramount concern in the healthcare industry, where longevity and proven results are often vital to a brand image.
7. Messaging and comments:
Pages can now receive private messages from fans, although you have the option to remove this feature. Commenting, on the other hand, cannot simply be disabled by a page administrator. As a social channel, Facebook wants to foster discussion, so comments are mandatory (with few exceptions). Pages dedicated to a specific drug, for instance, may cancel this functionality by contacting Facebook directly and requesting it. A representative from Facebook will review your page and determine whether or not to turn comments off on your behalf.
For more coverage and additional details, Mari Smith has outlined 21 key points to know about the Timeline changes.