“Everything you do starts with your Facebook Page.” On that note by Facebook’s VP of Product, Chris Cox, we are glad to learn that the long-awaited introduction of Facebook’s Timeline for Brand Pages is finally here!
I have to say, after having the personal Timeline from the very earliest stage of development, I’m quite excited for this long overdue update to Facebook Pages and what it will do for social commerce and marketing.
“As social media transforms other industries… we’re not doing it, we’re allowing partner companies to make change… It’s not US, it’s WE all together.” With those statements, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, expressed her excitement with the new Facebook Timeline for Pages, emphasizing Facebook’s role as a partner in the marketing and social process of brands. In fact, to me, it seems that there’s never been a better time to get inolved with Facebook on a deeper level!
Clearly, the update makes things look snazzier, but what do these changes mean for Facebook apps, marketing, and the bigger picture of social commerce in general? I want to go through some of the changes I’ve learned about and share my perspective on how they might impact Facebook commerce [a.k.a. F-Commerce] and marketing.
1. Cover photo is big and beautiful. At 850 x 315 pixels you now have the real estate to get your branding on and display your wares. Your profile picture, which needs to be 180 x 180 pixels, will now be your logo. Facebook suggested at the FMC event that this profile logo should never change. It is the branding part of your Page that will be carried throughout all your posts and in the newsfeed. Facebook also released a set of guidelines for the cover photos. Make sure to check them out before creating yours. The basics are…. No price or purchase information. No contact information [this all belongs in the About section]. No references to Facebook features or arrows. No calls to action. No false, misleading or stolen IP materials. In the short of it, Facebook wants your cover to be more of a photo then a sales ad.
2. App tab links are now front and center. Now called the “Views and Apps Row,” this change was most apparent to me as I previewed Brand Pages with Timeline. It appears that Facebook is giving brands the space to display three key app tabs along the top banner, which are all re-orderable [note: the “Photos” tab is not able to be changed]. The rest of your app tabs are hiding behind a numerical button that expands. In the case of a Brand Page focused on F-Commerce, this would be the perfect space to highlight a store or promotional app. Because they are placed at the very front and center, these apps are likely to earn a lot of attention from visitors. Additionally, all apps are able to be outfitted with customized images to better represent your brand. Be creative and you’ll be rewarded with click-throughs and views!
3. Apps now get their own separate space. One of the other biggest and most drastic changes I’ve noticed so far is that after clicking on an app (traditionally a tab on the left), users are now taken to a completely new and separate Page only filled with the contents of the app. In this case, Facebook’s interface almost seems to take a back-seat to the app, giving the apps room to breathe and let content shine. In the past, apps were hosted in more of a “frame” like space surrounded by other buttons and links. Now, Facebook has added a simple, persistent tool bar to the top of the app screen, allowing users to jump back to the profile or other apps on the Page.
4. More room to create? It would also appear that Facebook has now given us an 810-pixel wide space to build out app content. Now, that’s a lot of space! And it’s a huge jump from the previous 520-pixel width that frustrated so many of us. We truly can’t wait to see how brands fully utilized the new space. Imagine the richness in quality this change will help bring to Facebook Stores, Promotion Pages, Welcome Pages, and picture content!
5. Default Landing Tab is history. While tabs today will now get increased visibility, Facebook is eliminating the ability make your tabs the default landing destination to your Page, when non-fans visit your Page for the first time. As of today, you can still “LikeGate”, which is an attempt to force users to become a fan of your Page. This is part of Facebook’s effort to streamline the user experience while still providing brands the ability to program content and host any content on your Facebook Page. A big plus, is that all tabs will still have unique URLs [now referred to as, “Link to this Tab” when in edit mode] allowing these unique URLs to be copied and used in promotional material, ad campaigns, etc… directing viewers to any non or “LikeGated” content for conversion.
6. Where are the ads? Presumably, in this “app tab view” mode, sidebar ads have been disabled. But with all that blue space on the right side of the app content area, we can assume at some point Pages will be seen with relevant ads like on our personal Timelines today.
7. Images and Likes are now emphasized. If the new layout teaches us anything about content posting, we can see clearly that posts containing images are now highly emphasized. Not only do images get more attention, but also the other Pages that your Page “likes” are now placed right in the middle of the Timeline. In the case of a brand, this provides a great chance to cross-promote and share related brands with your fan base. Pinned posts now allow you to anchor the most important story to the top of your Page for up to 7 days, while highlighted posts now allow images to take up the full width of your Page. These features will be perfect for emphasizing special items, featuring a sale or promotion, or calling out a great post by fans.
8. A greater sense of what friends are doing. Another leap for the “social” aspect of social commerce is Facebook’s integration of “Friend Activity” on Brand Pages. What does this mean for your Facebook store? When users visit your Page, they’ll automatically be shown activity by friends who have interacted with your Page. Maybe they’ve bought something from your Facebook store, or maybe they’ve commented on your wall. Either way, the new Timeline will highlight friend activity even better than ever, helping to keep the social in social commerce!
9. Message your favorite brand directly. This update is huge for companies looking to engage fans and create customers out of their audience. Now, for the first time, a visitor can directly ask a question to the administrators of a Facebook Page. What makes this even more exciting for social commerce is that conversations can now take place privately between a brand and a customer, increasing the opportunity for two-way communication. Not all messages are meant to be public, and this new messaging feature is just the answer for small busineses and big brands looking to make a more private connection with their fans.
10. Offers get promotions in front of your customers. Built right into Facebook is a new tool that allows brands to push promotions and discounts right to their fans via a wall post. Right now, only a few companies (like Macy’s) have access to the tool, but we’re eager to find out the reach this promotional tool could have for small businesses and organizations.
So there you have it, Timeline for Facebook Pages. Keeping all the changes in mind, we at Fanpage Toolkit can’t help but be excited for the future of Social Commerce and Marketing opportunities on Facebook. We’ve created a robust set of tools that is fully compatible and scalable with Facebook’s new changes and layout, and we’re fully committed to providing increased innovation of our own as Social Commerce and Marketing evolves. Without change, we’d never innovate the way we do and advance the industry. We applaud Facebook for offering the ability to adapt and change with them.
And to answer the big question, will Timeline have an impact on F-commerce? You bet. There are more creative, personal, and promotional tools than ever before available to users and their Facebook Pages. Fanpage Toolkit just adds another layer of depth to these evolving features, transforming Facebook into a full-blown Social Commerce and Marketing Platform!
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