[WWN-FREE] Big Facebook Changes -- Timeline

It still boggles the mind that a company like Facebook has to continue to tinker with a formula and format which was working so well for so many people.

But that's exactly what Facebook did, and it falls to us to adjust accordingly.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the skinny: All Facebook "Pages" (i.e. NOT your personal profile -- though that is coming down the pike) will be forced into the new "Timeline" format on Friday (March 30th), and it actually changes a great deal.

Firstly, there is no more custom "Welcome Page" which you can automatically set to appear to "non-Likes". (This is a BAD change, in my opinion). A few more changes:

1) The look and feel of Pages is dramatically changing.
2) Custom tab visibility is going to be relocated greatly reworked.
3) There are new (strict) guidelines of what you can and cannot say on your Timeline cover image.  This one shocked me, but there are still some smart ways to take advantage of this space for marketing, if you're wise about it.
4) Greater Page messaging capabilities were introduced (GREAT NEWS!)

There are a whole host of other changes, technical and otherwise, but these give you an idea of the level and number of changes taking place. Some more of them are detailed further on here.

Now, the very good news for YOU (if you are one of our Social Media Elevation clients) is that we've been watching this and preparing for it since February. This week (and at the latest by early next week) we have created brand new Pages for all of our clients, and will be rolling them out -- with "fangating" (which I will address in a moment) taken into account.

Again -- current clients can rest assured that we will handle this on your behalf (as we do with ALL major Social Media changes!).

But, if you're not having us manage this for you for some reason, OR you'd like to understand current best practices on it, here's a rundown:

1) The "cover image" (which will be dominantly placed at the top) is very important. WARNING: Facebook has signalled (quite strongy) that they will penalize Pages who "abuse" this space. You may NOT directly solicit "Likes" from this space.

You many not put contact info, calls to action, or arrows pointing to the Like or Share button on your cover image. See the Page Guidelines here.

So what should you then do?

There are TONS of great things which you can do -- unfortunately, Facebook seems to be favoring the big branded corporations who gravitate towards a "big brand" marketing style. But here's a good rundown, with some ideas.

(For Social Clients, we'll be directly integrating some of these ideas for you, but we'll be offering you a choice in the near future to change things up, from time to time, as well. You'll hear more about that soon.)

2) Custom Apps. Just below your cover image, your 'tabs' are now displayed as apps or views. You can have a max of 12, though only four are always on display. The first one is always Photos and cannot be moved. 'Views' are Facebook's default apps or features such as Photos, Events, Likes, Notes, Map. Apps are all third party apps.

We've created these for clients, and will be integrating them on your behalf. These "apps" are now the BEST way that you can "fangate" on your Facebook page. This is the term used for the process which we've always integrated into Social Media strategy -- moving "fans and followers" into deeper forms of contact.

Each tab/app has a unique URL so you can drive traffic from inside or outside Facebook to any 'landing page' you wish. (Recommended.)

You can add a custom thumbnail image to all your apps. The dimensions are 111 x 74 pixels. These are great areas to get creative and add calls to action, and specials. To add/change a custom thumbnail, first expand all apps by clicking the small down arrow to the right of the four app display.

Then hover over any app > click the edit pencil > click Edit Settings > click Change next to Custom Tab Image (opens in a new window) > click Change > upload an image. Voila.

The image loads and saves right away. (Though we have noticed bugs with this feature and have often seen other pages' thumbnails appear ... so you may need to upload a couple times to get your image to stick!).

3) Messaging. Fans and visitors can now private Message fan admins -- you can turn this feature off in your settings but it might be a good idea to leave it on to encourage connection from prospects. (Again, we manage all of this for our current clients, and will notify you when you receive a message which needs a response.)

You cannot initiate messages as your page; you can only communicate via Messages when someone contacts you first. The one drawback of yet another method of communication is that you may need to monitor your page a little more.

These are the main highlights to know about. Again, we're managing this transition fully for our Social Media Elevation members (and including Suite clients).

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