What Does Facebook’s Timeline Mean for Brands and Small Businesses?

As you probably know, Facebook launched its Timeline for Pages this week. This means that brands will now have the same look and feel that we, as individual Facebook users, have enjoyed for the past few months.

But what does this mean from a branding standpoint? How will managing your Facebook page for your event organization or small business be different?

Here are some of my thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m crazy? Tell me your own ideas in the comments.

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Likes

We know that people are drawn to photos. With the huge cover photo layout, and the larger photo wall posting, it’s likely that images will pack the punch of your Facebook content.

On the Eventbrite page, I’ve seen the most engagement with photos – even ones that don’t have much to do with the product, such as this Friday Fodder piece from last month. The past few weeks has also seen image-based networks such as Pinterest take off in popularity, and images translate easily to the mobile experience. I don’t think this is a trend that will end.

Tip: Think carefully about the photos you post. Develop an editorial calendar specifically for images. Update your cover photo once a month, and make sure it’s a beautiful photo that represents you and your brand.

For our first cover photo, we chose a picture that shows the energy of the live experience that Eventbrite empowers (plus, some lovely orange tones!).

Like-gate Gate

Savvy brands loved making landing pages as a way to introduce the brand and boost likes. These were full, branded windows that covered the Facebook wall and encouraged first-time visitors to like the page for exclusive content. Now, those pages aren’t a possibility.

Tip: Be creative. What type of content is going to be shared, which will introduce your page to new users? Is there a promotional contest you can run to grab likes and engage with new users? Can you think of interesting ways to cross-promote your Facebook page, such as on your blog, Twitter, Google+, etc.?

Know the New Features

Brands are now able to pin posts to the top of their page (a move that Twitter introduced a bit ago to select brands, such as American Express), and highlight other posts so that they break out of the two columns and grab the eye.

Tip: Be strategic with these spaces – it’s likely to be the first interaction users have with your brand’s content while scrolling through the page. Change up your pins every day or so. Highlight will be a powerful tool for showcasing images or videos, and breaks up the page, encouraging scrollers to stop and interact. Use this feature selectively; say, every 10 posts or so. You want to make sure a “Highlight” is just that.

To pin your content to the top of the page, do the following:

  • Roll over the post
  • Click the pencil in the top right corner
  • Click “Pin to top”

To highlight, roll over a post and click the star in the upper-right corner.

Mark Your Milestones

Yes! I love this feature. Every brand has milestones, from its founding, to new product releases, special events that took off, and so on. You can mark these on your timeline.

This is a great way to humanize your brand by showing your history and reminding fans of the achievements you’ve celebrated with them. Check out the way ESPN SportsCenter used there’s below, to mark their first show.

Bonus: I also found this post on mustaches. Look at that engagement. Brilliant.

Tip: Fill in your milestones early on, and remember to keep them up to date. You’ll want to paint a full, beautiful picture of your brand and make sure this stays current.

Manage Your Messages

People can now send messages to brands. This is great for a more personal interaction, and potentially moving conversations off of the wall that don’t necessarily add value to space.

Tip: Calendar time to check your Facebook messages and stay on top of them. I know from my seat, this is going to be a huge shift in how we interact with our Facebook community, and could make Facebook an equal destination as Twitter for support-related questions and interactions.

So – what did I miss? Are there any other updates that you think will help engagement with fans? Tell me in the comments below.