It's here and it will be mandatory for all Facebook pages starting March 30th. Timeline, a new layout for both personal and business pages on Facebook, began its rollout last week. If you're a Facebook page admin for your business, you may have already noticed an announcement at the top of your page (while signed in under an admin account) inviting you to preview how your page would appear with the new Timeline layout as well as inviting you to tour the changes. Here are just a few points you should know as you plan your business page's switchover to Timeline.
There will no longer be any custom welcome pages
Those pages that you had custom built and set to default whenever a Facebook user would first visit your Page; yeah those are obsolete now. Don't be bummed folks...this is an "out with the old, in with the new moment". Custom welcome pages were great and wonderful...but the idea has been around since 2009 and sometimes a little change is good.
You can now choose a cover image for your Facebook Page
I have to admit that when I heard of Facebook getting rid of custom welcome pages, I was slightly annoyed...but this makes it all better (at least for me). These new cover images really deliver a wonderful first impression to first time viewers of your page.
A few things to note about them:
- Images should be unique and 851 by 315 pixels.
- Cover images can be swapped out at any time.
- They can't contain price or purchase info - no discount stuff, etc. Remember Facebook makes money off ads and they don't want folks using their site to compete with their advertising interests.
- Cover images can't have contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page's About section.
- Images can't contain references to user interface elements, such as "Like" or "Share", or any other Facebook site features so don't try to prompt users "like" your page with your cover image.
- They can't contain calls to action, such as "Get it now" or "Tell your friends"
- You can't encourage or incentivize people to upload your cover image to their personal timelines.
Your profile image will be shrunk to a small square and should represent your business on other parts of Facebook. You'll want this image to be your logo and the image should scale well from 180 by 180 to 32 by 32 pixels.
Your application tabs have moved
Your photos, your former "welcome page" any applications you've added to your Facebook page are now in this "Views and Apps" area. You can customize this section in your admin panel and you can show a maximum number of 12 apps, so make sure to put your most important ones first.
You have a little more control now over how your Facebook posts are displayed on your Page
You can now select pinned posts from your timeline that will display at the top of your page for up to 7 days. Of course this will really come in handy whenever you have something important going on or a message that you don’t want to immediately have buried beneath your other posts. Very cool enhancement in my opinion.
Starred posts will expand one of your posts the full width of the page so they stand out more. Just a tip, you might want to focus on adding quality images moving forward since your images will be focus areas inside Timeline.
Milestones also expand the full width of the page and include a flag with the post. These would be particularly useful for highlighting events like reaching a certain number of "likes" or important events in the history of your business.
You'll now have an admin panel and activity log right there on your Facebook Page
The admin panel shows you your notifications for the Page, allows you to view your Page Insights and, my favorite part of all of this, the panel shows you private direct messages from your fans. That's right your fans can now privately message you on Facebook. How cool is that?
With the activity log, you be able to hide and unhide posts on your page, you can star certain posts and change dates on posts so that they accurately flow in your Timeline.
And those are pretty much the main points you'll really want to take in. Again you have until March 30th to preview your page and figure everything out until they switch everyone over. Of course, if you're already ready to make the switch, there is always the option to publish now. If you need clarity in any of these areas always refer to Facebook's help section for additional information.
Clarification: We’ve heard feedback from readers that custom welcome pages are not dead and that making the switch to Timeline will not “get rid of those pages”. While the pages may still exist under your apps area on your Timeline profile, the Facebook functionality that sets those pages to default to the first thing new users see before they “like” the page, is gone. So while custom pages still exist, the part that actually made them useful is now gone. They are no longer custom “welcome” pages, they’re just pages buried in your apps section. For further reading, check out this post and this one.