Timeline’s Knocking On Our Doors

March 12, 2012                                                            return to JayVee Media Link LLC
by Jeanine Vecchiarelli

the BorgSome of us have embraced it; some of us are STILL resisting.  But resistance, as the Borg race in the Star Trek series would say, is futile.  Facebook’s Timeline is about to take over our personal profiles for good.  And by the end of March, it will have done so to our business pages as well.  It seems as though the vast majority of Facebook users do NOT like it.  But their only recourse is to delete their profiles. Resistance IS futile.

While I am not an overall fan of Timeline, repeated exposure has helped me to become a little more familiar with it.  Aside from the creepiness of seeing every post I have ever sent to my personal wall resurrected, the thing I dislike most is its two column layout.  It is very disorienting.  However, Timeline does have some features that are attractive.  And I believe those features will be especially useful for business pages.

The Pluses and Minuses

In an apparent effort to persuade business page users to buy Facebook ads, the new Timeline has taken away some of our capabilities, and established some rules that don’t appear very business friendly.  Gone are our landing tabs, or welcome pages, which enabled us to collect email addresses, offer special deals or giveaways, and present our companies in unique ways.  And while Timeline gives us a nice, big 850 by 315 pixel area cover photo with which to showcase our businesses, we are forbidden to use the space to advertise…or even to include contact information!  I can understand the Facebook honchos not wanting to see spammy looking cover photos, but not even contact information is allowed?  REALLY???

In lieu of custom landing tabs, the Timeline layout affords its business page users the opportunity to spread their message by taking advantage of the better location of and more generous space provided for various apps.  Formerly down the left margin of our pages, these apps can now be found right under our cover photos.  We have up to 12 that we can utilize, although only the first four stay constantly visible. And the first, unmovable app is always for the page’s pictures. So in effect we have three other spaces available for constant visibility.  Obviously, we need to make them count!

There are a few other features of the Timeline layout that I find attractive for business use.  One is the ease with which older posts can be accessed.  Just clicking on a point on the timeline, which is located down the right column, brings up the posts that were shared at that point in time.  That means no more rooting through our pages in search of posts we need to see or share once again.  We also have the ability to formally feature posts. Clicking a button in the top right corner of the box containing the desired message causes it to stretch across both columns. 

screen shot of personal timeline showing featured post

And then there is the “pin to top” feature, which is really neat!  Clicking the appropriate button (again, in the top right corner of the box) brings the message to the top of the Timeline and “pins it” there for up to seven days.  That is really useful for businesses that wish to pin a coupon code or other promotion to the top of the page for its fans and visitors to see readily.

screen shot of Mari Smith's business page timeline

Also, while not yet widely distributed, Facebook is giving businesses a tool called “offers.”  Special deals that merchants wish to grant their clients/potential customers can be claimed by clicking the offers posts that appear on the businesses’ profile pages, in newsfeeds, and even via mobile phones.  To read more about offers and see some pictorial examples, check out Mari Smith’s blog post about it.  I’m sure many business page owners are looking very forward to THAT attribute!

Another good feature Facebook gives us with its Timeline is the ability for fans and business page administrators to message each other privately.  The benefits of being able to converse off a page can’t be overstated, even if only to keep long conversations about any topic from becoming a distraction by cluttering the wall.

Circling back to the topic of ads, it’s no secret that Facebook wants to increase use of them to drive up its profit margin before the platform officially goes public.  But while the Facebook honchos desire more of them, they also want the ads to be more reader friendly.  Their aim is to make them appear more like posts than hard sales pitches.  Because of this, business page users will have the ability to turn any status update, picture or video posting on their walls into an ad – which will then be distributed through the news feeds of their fans, or for that matter of anyone who has interacted with their pages.  Furthermore, for a price Facebook will now guarantee a wider ad exposure for business folks interested in making the investment.

Concluding Thoughts

Change is never easy, especially when it is very big and involves upheaval within a business platform.  We haven’t the luxury of choice regarding whether or not we wish to use Timeline, so we had best start adjusting now.  It is my hope that the new, business friendly features offered up in Facebook’s Timeline will more than compensate for the departure of some others that were near and dear to us.

What are your thoughts about Facebook’s change to the Timeline platform for personal and/or business pages?  Have you found any other advantages or disadvantages?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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