How to Maximize Facebook Timeline for Your Brand or Business Page

How to Maximize Facebook Timeline for your BusinessIf you’re still working on figuring out how to maximize Facebook timeline, D-Day is almost here. Friday, March 30, is when your Facebook pages will automatically convert to the new Timeline format. If you haven’t already started to think about the look and content strategy for your new Timeline page, consider this a swift kick in the rear to get started—especially if you’ve managed to build a vibrant community on Facebook.

Since Timeline for Pages was announced in February, the conversion has created quite a stir among Facebook marketers and page admins. Sure, Timeline introduces a slew of new features—and also takes away certain functionalities like custom landing pages.

Yet we’re eager to embrace change and are excited about the possibilities of Timeline—not just from an aesthetic standpoint, but from an increased ability for brands to tell their stories in a narrative, visual way that will likely prove more appealing—and engaging—for their audience.

That being said, converting to Timeline isn’t as simple as clicking your mouse a few times. You’ll want to put some thought into what you’ll post on your new page, as well as what images you’ll use and what custom apps—if any—you’ll create. Let’s take a look at some of the elements you’ll want to include in your new Timeline.

How to Maximize Facebook Timeline for Your Brand or Business Page

Photos

One of the most noticeable new features of Facebook Timeline is the highly visual appearance of the page. Custom landing pages have been replaced with a cover photo, which measures 851 x 351 pixels. This is a premium piece of visual real estate that you can maximize in order to help your page make an engaging first impression with current and prospective fans. Keep in mind, however, that your cover photo can’t include any price or purchase info, contact info or calls to action.

Additionally, Timeline does a great job of displaying any posted photos and albums. A quick tip? When you upload a set of photos or create a new album, try to keep the number of images at either 1 or 4 or more. It sounds odd, but it all has to do with how Timeline displays the photos. If you upload just one, it’s displayed as a sizable image that makes a great visual element to your Timeline. And if you upload four or more, you’ll end up with an eye-catching layout that includes the first dominant image, followed by a line of smaller tiled images underneath the primary photo. Of course, the Earth won’t rotate off its axis if you upload two or three photos at a time, but sticking to the numbers we suggested will help boost the appearance of your page.

Pins, Highlights and Milestones

Three new Timeline features are pinned posts, which anchor a story at the top of your Timeline for up to 7 days; highlighted posts, which stretch across the width of your Timeline; and milestones, which detail an event, location, date and story, as well as an accompanying photo that measures 843 x 403 pixels.

As you select the content that will populate your Timeline, be sure you take advantage of each of these features. Pinned posts are great ways to highlight a special promotion, incentive or some other time-sensitive information, and are an ideal substitute for custom landing pages thanks to their prominence at the top of the Timeline. Of course, you’ll need to make sure you rotate your pinned posts every week.

Highlighted posts are an ideal way to draw attention to particularly interesting, informative or relevant content. You don’t necessarily want to highlight every post on your page; that could become distracting. Instead, go back through your page’s history and pick out the posts that you think will be most beneficial to your audience. Consider interaction, too. If you’ve posted content that’s received a high number of comments, shares and/or likes, you may want to consider converting that content into a highlighted post in order to make it a more prominent part of your page.

Remember when we mentioned Timelines as a great way to tell your brand’s story? That’s where milestones come in. Walk your audience through important events in your company or brand’s history. Mark significant occasions, achievements or other commemorative dates. Not only do milestones give you a place in which to detail the story of this particular event, but they’re also accompanied by large photos that serve as appealing, informative elements of your Timeline. Milestones represent a great opportunity to give your audience a more in-depth look at your brand or business. They’re also a way to combine your company’s past with your current digital marketing efforts, resulting in a more comprehensive presentation of information.

Consider Custom Apps

Although Timelines no longer include custom landing pages, Facebook page admins and marketers now have the option to create custom apps through Facebook’s Open Graph, which is an extension of the social graph to include third party web sites and pages that people liked throughout the Web. Facebook is now extending the Open Graph to include arbitrary actions and objects created by third-party apps and also enabling these apps to integrate deeply into the Facebook experience.

Once you create a custom app, you give consumers an opportunity to share specific actions that relate to your brand and introduce a new level of transparency. This creates a more valuable—and shareable—experience beyond the ambiguous “like.” Another important benefit to developing custom apps, they get prime real estate at the top of your Timeline in the info bar. You can include up to six apps in your Timeline with customized thumbnails that help entice page visitors to interact with the content.

Recent research has shown that these custom Timeline apps have powerful potential to become referral engines. Brands like Pinterest and Foodspotting.com have already reported spikes in traffic from Facebook, which solidifies the importance of using Facebook as part of your larger digital marketing strategy to reach a larger audience and help drive traffic back to your company’s website.

Keep “About” Brief

As part of the new Timeline layout, the primary info bar at the top of the page includes space for a company or business summary. Keep it brief, though; the “About” section only includes room for a couple of sentences. And be sure to include your company website address in the “About” text, giving page visitors an easy and prominent way to quickly access your website.

Now that we’ve shared our tips for maximizing your page’s Timeline, are you up for the challenge? Let us know if you’ve already converted your page—and what your experience has been so far—or if you’re still in the process of tweaking your page’s look and content before officially hitting the switch.

Image by julianlimjl via Creative Commons

You can also find me on Google+ Real Time Web Analytics