What’s Changing and What It Means For Admins
At first, I thought about starting this post with analogy about how much Facebook must like baseball- what with all the curve balls it’s been throwing us marketers as of late.
Surprise – I stuck with that pun, tongue in cheek as it may be. As we all learned this morning, that’s more than Facebook can say about its decision stick with the latest Brand Page re-design by announcing all Brand Pages must switch to a new Timeline for Brands layout by March 30.
If you missed the announcement, here’s where you can learn more: The New Facebook Timeline For Brands
If you’re an administrator for even the smallest of Brand Pages, you’re going to see how the new timeline for brands design quite literally affects every function of the Page.
Shortlist: The Pros and Cons of Timelines For Brands
Bigger App Space Means More Creative Opportunity
Previously, page tabs were limited 520px wide, but with the new layout admins can create content that fills a template up to 810px wide. More creative room to breathe is a great addition for brands that want to showcase specific products, services or other initiatives. Existing tabs will still show perfectly fine, but will only take up their originally allotted 520px in the space.
Speaking of more creative space, the new timeline for brands design includes a “cover photo” area just like what’s currently available for users. Will this replace the welcome tab? Yes and no, but more on that later.
Private Messages From Users To Admins
While I think this basic feature is something that should have been added ages ago, users can now send private messages to brands that opt in. Unfortunately (from a marketing standpoint), Page admins won’t be able to message users directly unless they send the Page a message first. Still, private contact with fans is a great thing to finally have.
Feature Posts Via the ‘Pinned Post’ Button
Yet another update that is a long time coming- featured posts. This new button allows Pages to methodically feature specific posts and keep them at the top of the Timeline for seven days. I can see this being huge for the brand that announces a new product but doesn’t want to disrupt normal content posting.
It’s also going to be great for crisis management, allowing consumers to complain or give feedback without losing the official response from the brand.
Along with pinning a post, admins can also choose to “star” a post, making it bigger in the Timeline. While it won’t keep the post stuck to the top of the Timeline, this is feature will draw more attention to visual updates like photos and videos.
The Updated ‘Admin Panel’
Nothing groundbreaking, but for the admin on the go the new admin panel gives admins a quick look at recent Page notifications, allows them to respond to any new messages and makes content curating and access to insights a bit more seamless. I’ll take it.
Milestones are key moments in the history of your brand that you’ve decided to highlight on your Page. Milestones are unique in the way Facebook presents them- expanded to widescreen and visible to everyone visiting your Page.
Whether you want to show off your first-ever sale, highlight the date a new product launched or even share with your fans the first date you opened shop, this feature will be a fun addition. Brand marketers (specifically those in agencies who represent other parties- like me) will probably be on the fence about this one.
I think it’s a great addition, sure, but I can already tell it’s going to be A LOT of work tracking down every date and story behind certain events in the history of our clients- something users may not even take the time to explore.
The Bad (and ugly)
Say Goodbye to the Default Landing Tabs
You may call them like gates, welcome pages or landing tabs. I call them bread and butter for a brand on Facebook. No matter what you call them, however, you’ll be kissing them goodbye come March 30. According to Facebook, people will always see the timeline view of your Page when they visit it. It’s not clear if this affects fans and non-fans differently, but it’s still a huge slap in the face for brand marketers who have spent countless hours and dollars on custom welcome pages and apps.
While apps are “now easy to find right below your Page’s cover,” (you can set images up to 111px by 74px to promote your tab app) it doesn’t substitute for a great landing page that converts the common lurking visitor into a brand fan.
Sidebar: those who feel fan-gating was all about getting likes are dead wrong. Anyone who actually uses strategy will tell you that the opportunity to remarket to users (because they clicked “LIKE” to see more content on your page) is extremely more valuable to brands than a bigger number of likes. I dare you to prove me wrong.
No Refresh on Likes
Woobox, one of my favorite app developers, explains this best. So I’ll let them do the talking here:
“[No refresh on new Likes] is a very big issue for running fan-gated promotions and for this reason I would recommend you do not upgrade to Timeline for Pages early. When a non-fan clicks Like on your tab, currently Facebook does not refresh the page so we can not automatically show the new fan content. You would have to prompt the fan to refresh their page manually. It is hard to believe this won’t be fixed, but currently it is the main reason not to upgrade.”
The Design is Cluttered
While it may be more of an aesthetic choice than an actual con, I can’t help but stress that the new timeline layout is way, way too cluttered. In an age where people take in all kinds of information in rapid succession, I think it’s absolutely crucial for marketers to be able to choose where eyes are going at every step of the game.
The new Timeline for brands design more or less just throws content at the Facebook wall and sees what sticks. There’s content continually changing on the left, the right, the top and everywhere in between. While the new pin and star buttons are a nice touch, I don’t see them overcoming the problem of a busy environment, something marketers are all too worried about.
If you’re keeping score at home, it might seem like the good is outweighing the bad. My response: it’s all relative. For the new business that hasn’t quite broken out into the Facebook game this is a fantastic opportunity to jump in feet first. For the big brands and agencies with social media teams numbering in the dozens, this is a new challenge waiting to be conquered (though I imagine a few COO’s won’t be happy about the six-figure microsite tab they just paid to have created, being useless in 30 days).
Small businesses and agencies that have finally started making conversions and are seeing traction from Facebook welcome pages, fan gates, and custom tabs have reason to be up in arms today. But like every new social media update and evolution, changing and adapting is a part of the game – a part that makes working in this business so damn exciting.