8 Steps to Transitioning to Facebook Timeline for Brands

by Esoos Bobnar on March 7, 2012

Last week Facebook announced their new Timeline for Pages, giving a radical new look to Facebook brand pages. You have until the end of the month to get your page ready for the switch; on March 30, everyone will be pushed to the new interface automatically.

Here’s the ten steps to take to make the transition:

  1. Set your cover image.
  2. The new layout requires a single 851px by 315px cover image or photo at the top of the page. Promotional aspects are not allowed in your cover image: no mentions of specials, sales or prices, no contact info, and no requests for follows or “likes”.

    Use a high-quality image you feel represents your business. Here’s some examples of cool cover photos other businesses are using, and here’s how to add your photo.

  3. Set your profile image.
  4. Facebook gives you a smaller profile image that goes near the lower left of the cover photo. This profile image should be uploaded at 180px by 180px, although it will be displayed beneath your cover image at 125px by 125px.

    This image will also be used as your avatar when you post stories to your Timeline and in your Newsfeed, so be sure it looks good at 50px by 50px too. Most businesses will find that a square version of their logo works well here.

  5. Set your “About” description.
  6. Below your cover photo you can enter a short “About” description of your business or organization. Add your URL here to get a link back to your website. Local businesses will display an address and contact info.

    One note: If you’re not a local business with a single location catering only to a local customer base, then do not enter your business’s physical address in Facebook. Doing so can potentially cause Facebook to convert your Facebook Business Page with a Place Page, causing enormous headaches (as you can see if you browse the Unmerge Facebook group).

  7. Set your featured apps.
  8. Facebook got rid of the “tabs” (the menu items on the old left sidebar) and replaced them with “apps”. These are essentially the same as the old tabs, except they’re near the top of the page (under the cover photo and over to the right) and you only get to display four, once of which must be your Photos app. You’ll need to create an 111px by 74px image to represent each app.

    You actually get 12 apps in total, but to see beyond the first four “Favorite” apps your users will need to click a small “down arrow” next to them. It’s unlikely many users are going to bother, so you should select the “Favorite” apps users can see by default carefully. Here’s how to set your Favorite apps. You can still get users to see your remaining apps by linking to them in posts or buying ads that direct users to them.

    Of the three Favorite apps you’re allowed to feature, we recommend one be a fan-gate app designed to encourage users to like your page (see below), one being an email newsletter signup (MailChimp integrates nicely with Facebook) and one being the Pinterest app. Cross-promoting your Facebook and Pinterest pages can be a great way to grow your fan base on both sites. ShortStack makes an app that makes it easy to integrate the two.

    App width is now 810px, up from the old 520px tab width you were limited to before. However, we’ve found that Facebook still crops the image a bit, so if you don’t want the edges of your apps from getting chopped off, then it’s better to go with a width of about 750px.

  9. Develop a strategy for sending visitors to your fan-gating app.
  10. The biggest change for marketers is that you can no longer set default landing tabs for non-fans. Instead, your timeline page is now your default landing page for everyone. To encourage fans to like your page, one of your top apps should offer a coupon, giveaway entry, or some other benefit in exchange for a like. This technique is often referred to as fan-gating.

    ShortStack has several fan-gating templates that are easy to customize for coupons, giveaways, promotions, contests, and more, and are configured to fit the new wider app interface. Other than the removal of the ability to set a default landing tab, fan-gating works much like it did before, except that you’ll now use an app, and you’ll need to work harder to get users to that app, since not all non-fans will see it first by default anymore.

    Here’s a few ways to funnel users to your fan-gating app:

    1) Set it as a prominently featured Favorite app (as mentioned above).
    2) Set it as a pinned post (see below).
    3) When you link to your Facebook page from your website, email newsletters, or advertising, send visitors directly to the app page instead of your main timeline page.
    4) Buy Facebook ads that drive users to your fan-gating app.

  11. Set your pinned post.
  12. You can choose one post to pin at the top left section of your Timeline. This is another chance to drive visitors to your fan-gating app that encourages them to like your page in exchange for some benefit. Pinned posts only stay up for a week, so you’ll need to come up with a fresh ways to encourage people to visit that app, such as launching new giveaways, coupons, or other “fans-only” goodies. Here’s how to pin a post to the top of your page.

  13. Clean up your existing Timeline.
  14. Now is a good time to scroll down through your Timeline and remove any posts that are negative, irrelevant, or outdated. You don’t need to be obsessive about scrubbing your entire post history, but realize that these are the posts that users will see when the browse through your Timeline. So if there’s anything in there you’d like to take out, now’s the time.

    By default, other users will also be able to post to your Timeline. You can prevent other users from posting, but that really goes against the “social” part of social media. Better to let people post and mark individual posts as spam or block specific users only if they become a problem.

  15. Star the posts you want to feature.
  16. Starring posts expands them to the full width of your Timeline, making them stand out more prominently for your page’s visitors. Choose a few of your best posts to be starred. Here’s how to star a post in Timeline.

To get started, log into Facebook, go to the Timeline for Pages preview manager, and click the “Turn on Preview” button to see what it’s going to look like. Don’t worry, only you and your Page’s admins will be able to see the changes until you click “Publish Now”. Once you’ve made those changes listed above, your Page should be ready to transition over to the new Timeline interface.

Other changes to be aware of.

  • Fans can now easily message you directly via the “Message” button at the top of your page, so expect more people to contact you. Facebook is an important customer service channel, so make sure you respond to these messages promptly. You can also turn this feature off if you’d rather not receive messages from your fans.

  • The new “Admin” panel at the top of your page makes it easy to see your messages, stats, notifications, new likes and more all in one place. This is also where you go to manage your page’s settings.

Facebook image size cheatsheet for brand pages

  • Cover image: 851px by 315px
  • Profile image: 180px by 180px (but will be displayed at 125px by 125px and should look good down to 50px by 50px)
  • Apps images: 111px by 74px

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