Facebook is about to transition business Pages to the new timeline format that most user profiles have already been transitioned to. All Facebook Pages will transition to the new format on March 30th, 2012.
The new Facebook Pages have the same layout as individual user profiles. This means you can include a "cover photo" at the top of your page and the bar right below the cover photo will include some basic "about" information and access to the apps you are using on your page. In the screenshot above, you can see our Photos, Likes, Map and Videos app are all displayed below the cover photo.
Below this new header area, you'll see a two column list of you most recent posts.
Below, you'll find details of what's changing and how to prepare your Page for the update.
The New Facebook Page Cover Photo
The new cover photo offers a number of branding opportunities for your page. However, there are some limitations regarding how you can use this area.
- SIZE: The optimal size for the new Facebook Page cover photo is 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. You can upload images that area larger than this, but Facebook will crop the image to these dimensions and it might results in some loss of quality. According to Facebook, the cover photo has to be at least 399pixels wide. We'd recommend uploading an image exactly 851x315 for the best results.
- RESTRICTIONS: Your cover photo can not include any price or purchase information, such as "30% off" or "buy it at our website". The photo can't include any Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page's About section. You're also restricted from including references to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features Calls to action, such as "Get it now" or "Tell your friends." That's a lot of restrictions, right? You can still accomplish some creative things in this space. If you'd like some inspiration, check out some of the featured pages that have already transitioned to the new design at http://www.facebook.com/about/pages.
- MORE HELP: Facebook has created a dedicated overview page and help section to guide you through the transition, so be sure to check out the resources they've provided too.
We think the new Cover Photos are a positive change overall - they provide a much better branding opportunity than the old sidebar images, but they also have a number of restrictions so you'll need to be creative when creating your image. If you need help, please contact us and we can start brainstorming.
Other Facebook Pages Changes
In addition to the new Cover Photo, the new Facebook Pages include a number of other changes.
DEFAULT TABS ARE GONE: In the past, Page administrators could specify a default landing tab for users visiting their page. In fact, you could also choose to display a specific page to users who hadn't "liked" your page yet and a different page to your fans. The new page format removes the ability to specify a specific landing tab for your Facebook Page. All visitors to your page are now forced to land on the default timeline. This is a pretty big change and it means you can't create landing pages to prompt users to "like" your page or "opt-in" before they see the rest of the content on your page.
APPS & OTHER CONTENT: Facebook Apps used to be displayed on the left side of the page in a list. In the new design, they are displayed at the top of the page in small boxes right below the cover photo. You can include up to 10 Apps on your Facebook Page (photos is included automatically) and you can specific the order of the apps in this area. The area will expand an contract as you add more apps. Unfortunately, this means only three custom apps can be visible below the cover photo.
In the screenshot below you can see Facebook's Facebook Page and their apps displayed as tiles below their cover photo. Notice only three apps are displayed (and the default Photos app).
This is what the list looks like expanded.
- You can include a total of 10 custom apps on your new Facebook Page. These apps can display custom content or specific functionality. There are 12 tiles/slots available, but one is reserved for the photos app and the other is reserved for the number of "likes" your page has received.
- You can control the order of all of the tiles, except the photos app, and the first three apps in your list will be displayed when your app list is open and closed.
- You can specify the names and images displayed on each app tile. The images used in your tiles should be 111 pixels wide by 74 pixels tall.
- Custom apps/pages are getting a little larger. Custom pages will be up to 810px wide in the new design, which gives you a little more room to work with when designing custom pages.
What do you think so far? Be sure to leave us a comment to tell us whether you prefer the new or old Facebook Page design.
Messages - An Inbox For Your Facebook Page
One big complaint many people had about Facebook Pages was that their was no way for users to contact the admin of a page. The new Facebook Pages also include a new "Messages" feature that will allow you fans to contact you through Facebook's messaging system. We're not completely sure about this feature yet. While it will provide users with a way to contact the admin of a page, it might also decrease the number of comments and wall posts you'll get on your page. You should experiment with this to see what works best for your organization.
The good news is that you have a choice, you can turn off private messaging for your page if you want to. To turn it off, go to the "admin" section of your page and then to the "Manage Permissions" screen. From there, you can choose to check or uncheck the box next to "Show message button on your page"
Once you’ve balanced the pros and cons of the private messaging system, if you choose to turn off private messaging for you page, you can. Facebook certainly did. Simply go to your Admin Panel, then click on Manage and Edit Page. On the Manage Permissions screen, you will see a checkbox for Show “Message” Button on your page. Simply uncheck that to turn off the private messages option.
Your Next Steps
Facebook Pages are changing whether you like it or not (no pun intended) on March 30th, 2012. You don't have to convert until then, but Facebook has given you the ability to preview how the new design will look on your page privately until then. Page admininstrators will see a new "preview" option when they visit their page. Here are some things you'll definitely want to do before the 30th.
- Create A Cover Photo: Be sure to select a great image for your cover photo. Facebook Pages that don't have a great cover photo will look amateur without one.
- Update Your "About Us" Info: Your "About Us" information is now displayed front and center on your Facebook page, so make sure you've provided accurate information in this area. The new summary "about" section can include up to 165 characters - we'd recommend using some of those characters to create a link to your website.
- Update Your Page’s Basic Information – Click the "About" link and review your page’s basic information. Make sure it's up to date and accurate.
Other Resources From Facebook
Hopefully this post provides you with enough information to make the transition to the new page design a smooth one. If you have additional questions, post them in the comments and we'll help if we can. In addition, you might also find these official resources helpful.
- New Facebook Pages – Facebook created a thorough introduction for the new Page design and the main features. This introduction also includes links to a number of example pages to give you some inspiration.
- Facebook Pages Questions – The official help files for the new Facebook Pages include a number of answers to questions about the new design.
- Facebook Pages Guide – Facebook created this 8 page .pdf ebook to walk you through the new page features. It also includes a thorough checklist to help you prepare for the transition.
- Best Practice Guide – Facebook published this 14 page .pdf ebook to introduce a number of "best practices."
In summary, the new Facebook Page design include a number of positive changes, but also a few new restrictions and limitations that could impact your marketing efforts on the world's largest social networking site. Even with the new limitations, we're excited about the changes - how about you? Be sure to leave us a comment to let us know what you're thinking.