Facebook rolled out an entirely new version of pages a couple months ago, mirroring the user profile update, centered around Timeline. Facebook’s Timeline allows both users and brands a better canvas for self-expression. This update (like every other change Facebook has ever made) stirred a little controversy among users. Timeline for pages brings an entirely new way to establish and maintain a brand on Facebook. For page owners and social marketers, this comes with a set of pros and cons. Let’s look at the good first.
How Timeline Helps Pages
Page owners are now able to be much more expressive with Timeline. They’re able to establish an identity on Facebook for their brand with the new features that make up (and accompany) Timeline. Ultimately, this should help to push more users to brand pages and stir up enough interest so that they actually revert back to the page after liking it. Currently, over 95% of users never return to pages after liking it (Source: BrandGlue). I think Facebook would agree with me in saying that number will likely decline in the next few months with these new changes. Now, onto the specifics:
Cover Photos: Probably the most important change for pages. The cover photo, a 851×315 pixel banner across the top of the page, is essentially a new (and very different) version of the ‘custom landing tab’. Unlike many custom landing tabs that have greeted Facebook users, cover photos cannot display calls-to-action, promotions, or contact information. They are solely meant to be an expression of the brand.
Pinned Posts: A soon-to-be favorite for social marketers, pinned posts give pages the opportunity to drastically increase the shelf life of a post. While most posts only really ‘live’ for a few hours, this feature allows a post to peacefully sit on the top left-hand side of the page for 7 full days. This will help pages decide exactly what a user will see when they first arrive to their page as well as give them the ability to drive traffic to important promotions/events.
Fan Messaging: Facebook has decided to give messaging another chance, albeit in a different way, after eliminating pages abilities to message fans this past September. With this new iteration of messaging, Facebook mixes it up by putting the power of messaging into the hands of users, with page owners then able to respond to these messages, rather than blasting out messages as they had before. You can see the ‘message’ button in the above photo of Coca Cola’s page. Facebook’s decision to resurrect messaging as a customer service tool is in the best interest of all parties involved.
How Timeline Hurts Pages
With the good always comes the bad, but fortunately in this case, the former definitely outweighs the latter. This huge revision for pages is a huge ‘win’ for everyone: pages, users, and Facebook. With that said, there are a couple drawbacks:
Landing Page Tab Applications: It’s back-to-the-drawing-board for many social media marketers, as they learn to promote pages without the help of their beloved customized landing tabs. The change to Timeline has effectively killed any and all custom landing page tabs. Page owners and social marketers can still use these as applications, but they cannot feature them as a part of the default landing page. This will certainly result in even lower traffic for these already struggling applications (Note: This statement is based on the above fact regarding the return rate of fans). This also eliminates the use of a fan-gate, which prevents users from accessing content until they ‘like’ a page. On the bright side, pages could use pinned posts (mentioned above) to drive traffic to these apps. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how this plays out, especially for companies like tracks.by, who’s custom tab (with fan-gate) for Lil’ Wayne is pictured below.
Page Tab Applications: There are other page tab applications that pages use and promote on top of the default landing page tab application, and these will undoubtedly suffer as well. These will now sit on the bottom right-hand side of the browser, with four apps featured. One app that is featured by default is ‘Photos’. The other three can be tailored to the page owner’s preferences. This will seriously hinder the traffic numbers for any other apps that don’t make the front page, as users will have to click to see any other apps. Below are Coca Cola’s featured apps– also note that there are 8 hidden, which probably will remain unseen by most users.
You can check out Facebook’s introduction video to the newest version of pages here. Also be sure to check out Facebook’s Guide to Success for Pages and Facebook’s announcement of these changes at fMC (video).