Editor’s Note: With today’s blog post, Bridgeline is happy to introduce our newest contributor, Eric Ritter. Eric joins Bridgeline from our Tampa, FL office, and brings copious experience and professionalism along with him.
By Bridgeline Digital
With the cacophony – or symphony, depending on your viewpoint and comfort level – of brand messages being transmitted to today’s average consumer, it’s hard to believe that Facebook has made disseminating many of these messages for businesses easier.
Arguably, though – with opinions varying wildly according to whom you ask – that seems to be exactly what the social networking giant has done with its new Facebook business page design, by introducing the soon-to-be-forced “Facebook Timeline.”
And yet, the new timeline template now “available” (read: compulsory) for businesses to display Facebook Pages has many users questioning the change.
Modifications by Facebook to personal profiles are confusing enough, and notoriously cause discomfort at first, but users eventually adapt and settle into their new digital abodes. In time, users even begin to advocate these all-too-regular (judging by the short furor they always seem to cause) profile page updates. Take all of the new photo display features introduced in early 2011, which allow users to view more photos, faster, without losing their Facebook place, for example. Hard to find anyone really complaining about that update – at least, not anymore.
However, with the new Facebook Timeline profile, that comfortable pattern doesn’t seem to be quite as comfortable this time. A boatload of Facebook users – the vast majority of which are consumers – fear their right to privacy is being infringed upon with this new change. And with businesses in the mix, those consumers are beginning to wonder just who they can really trust.
So, what does Timeline mean for businesses?
How can businesses restore the faith? What can be done to re-insert calm into the minds of consumers with this new feature? According to Facebook, increasing interactivity, transparency and engagement will quickly become the new business norm for success in social media – and Timeline is the platform on which these new tenets seem to be best displayed, and they leave plenty of room for optimization.
Facebook’s Timeline, featuring a new, huge cover photo, a larger, more prominent profile photo, customizable views and apps, an administration panel and a fairly robust messaging feature gives those businesses who have just adapted to the onslaught of social multimedia madness with much more to digest. Even businesses with significant tenure on Facebook potentially face some fairly major branding decisions when they launch their Facebook page in the new format. To see just how much, read more from Hubspot about the specifics of all the additional features that come with the change.
The idea of the new page design seems to be just this: the more emphasis is placed on visual content, the more engaged everyone will be. We know this to be true with the visually oriented – and massively trending – Pinterest. Larger and more prominent photos, charts, info graphics and more are proven to generate more traffic than other types of posts.
Content management is also increasingly important in the new timeline. Businesses need to be increasingly aware of exactly what they’re saying, when they’re saying it and to whom everything’s being said. With Timeline, Facebook, as a market leader and proven trendsetter (at the very least), is emphasizing the importance of keeping prime content at the forefront of any business page by allowing increased customization, while ensuring that content management is anchored to a format that makes sense.
With the new Facebook change, there are many things that are noticeably different. Here are the most significant – and difficult – changes for companies to grasp.
Companies can add “milestones” to their page, allowing specific points in a brand’s history to be highlighted, and detailed further.
The cover photo is the new landing experience. Red Flag: Calls-to-action and promotions are prohibited in this new space.
The profile photograph or “avatar” on the sidebar is gone.
All visitors will land on the Timeline by default. This means welcome landing tabs are gone.
Tabs are more prominent now since they’ve been moved to the top, just below the cover photo.
Both positive and negative historical activity will be shown.
The administration panel allows page managers to view notifications and page analytics, respond to messages and edit page content from a dashboard right at the top of the page.
The pin feature allows posts to stay at the top left of the page for a maximum of seven days.
The highlight feature allows prized content or milestones to stand out from other posts.
Mandatory implementation of the new page design begins March 30th for all business pages. Make sure you’re ready.