Facebook's Timeline Cover ImageFacebook’s newly launched Timeline for Pages caught most everyone off-guard. News had been traveling that Timeline for Pages was coming, and it was expected to be announced at the Facebook Marketing Conference (fMC) held in New York on February 29. Much to most of the world’s surprise, we woke up Februray 29 to Timeline already released an available to preview on our Pages. AHH!

You’re probably hearing all of the buzz about Timeline for Pages, but aren’t quite sure how to sort it all out. Don’t worry, I’m going to help you figure out how this major change impacts your business and how you should proceed. First, I recommend going through this interactive tour of Timeline for Pages, created by Facebook. It gets a bit lenghty, but it’s a good guide to using your page and it walks you through uploading images and customizing your page.

I thought I’d address some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) I’ve been getting and hearing about the new Timeline for Pages to help ease your nerves and get you started on the right foot.

  1. Will our pages be forced to move to Timeline for Pages?

    All pages will be automatically transitioned to Timeline after March 30, 2012. You have the option now to preview your page in Timeline and play around with it. You can also make it go live right away if you prefer. Instructions are in the tutorial from Facebook I mentioned earlier.

  2. What happens to our Welcome/Landing tab?

    Create thumbnails for Timeline appsThe welcome tab and any other apps you had on your old page get moved to the view right below the cover photo. You can now create thumbnails for any of your apps and display up to 12 apps using the dropdown (see image – click to enlarge). The welcome tab isn’t going to appear automatically when people go to your page, anymore. Now, they’d have to click on the thumbnail to view it. This will be interesting to see how different businesses will utilize the apps in the upcoming months. Perhaps the nicest feature of the apps is that when you visit on of the apps on a page, you can now use the entire width of the page to build custom content. Previously apps only fit within the wall column, which was only 540 pixels wide. Now, you can use the entire width, which is about 810 pixels wide. So much more room for creative play!

  3. What can I use for a cover photo?

    Facebook has released some pretty stringent rules about using the cover photo. Cover photos cannot include:

    • Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download here”
    • Contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section
    • References to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features
    • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

    It’s clear that businesses must be careful when designing their cover photos. No advertising here! It’s meant to be an image that lets you show off your personality.

  4. What are the sizes of the images for Timeline for Pages?

    The idea cover photo size is 851 x 315 pixels. It’s a good idea to use your logo for your profile picture. Its dimensions are 180 x 180 pixels, but will be scaled down to 32 x 32 pixels when it shows up in other places on Facebook. The custom app thumbnails are 111 x 74 pixels. As a designer, I’m very excited to see what businesses come up with for their page design. My company, Ekcetera, is a great resource if you need help designing your page.

  5. Can I highlight specific stories?

    Highlighted story on Facebook pageYep. Two of the most nifty features of Timeline for Pages are the highlighted story and the fact that you can pin any one story to the top of your page for up to 7 days. If you have a specific post you want to highlight as a larger image on your timeline, just click the start icon at the top of the post to make it span the entire width of your timeline (see image – click to enlarge)

    Facebook highlighted postAlso, you can feature or pin a story to the top of your profile page by clicking dropdown at the upper right hand corner of the post and selecting “Pin to Top.” Any pinned post will stay at the top of your profile for up to 7 days. Pinned posts are marked with a little orange banner.

  6. Can I send messages to my fans?

    Why yes! This may prove to be one of the most useful features of the new Facebook Pages. Before, if a fan commented on your posts and you wanted to reply privately, there was no way to contact that person. Now, you can message the person and receive messages from fans exactly the same way you can with your personal profiles.

  7. I heard that ads where changing. How?

    Facebook ads are going to see a major transformation over the coming weeks. There’s still a bit of uncertainty about the changes because they haven’t been implemented yet, but here’s what Facebook said at fMC. It’s releasing a new product called Premium, which includes premium placement, such as ads that appear in News Feeds, that run on the right-hand side of your homepage, within the News Feed on your mobile device, and ads that appear when you log out. In addition, Facebook announced Offers, which allow Brand Pages to offer a special deal only to those who have liked the page. Lastly, it announced a new product called “Reach Generator” that is supposed to help businesses reach out to their fans and increase the number of people that come in contact with your brand on Facebook.

  8. What’s new with the administration page?

    Facebook pages new admin panelThe new admin panel promises to be a much easier way to administer your brand’s page. It is accessed by a button near the top of your page and smoothly drops down above your page. The panel contains notifications of all your recent fan activity, making it much easier to respond to all new comments from one place. It shows the most recent likes you’ve received, as well as a snapshot view of your insights data. Additionally, there’s a messaging area that will function very similarly to personal profiles. This will make administration of your page much easier, faster, and more centrally located.

Overall, there are some very exciting, nerve-wracking, and frustrating things about the changes Facebook announced for Brands. Like any other change, it will take time to adjust, but I’m confident many of the features will be great to build your business on Facebook (some may not be). What are your thoughts, opinions, excitement and fears about the changes? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

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