How To Use Facebook Timeline For Brand Pages: New Feature Details

From Techcrunch:

Activating Timeline
First, visit the Timeline for Pages preview manager and select to add Timeline to your Pages. You’ll then enter a curation period where only your Page’s admins can see Timeline, while everyone else including your fans will see the old design. Walk yourself through the features detailed below, and when you’re ready, click the “Publish Now” button atop your Page to start showing off Timeline to everyone. You can upgrade anytime until March 30th, 2012, at which Timeline will automatically become publicly visible for all of your Pages.

The Timeline cover displays a giant 851 x 315 pixel banner across the top of your Page. Facebook’s Product Director of Ads Gokul Rajaram tells me its “goal is to symbolize what an organization is all about. For a restaurant it could be a popular menu item, a band could display album cover art, and a business could show a picture of their customers using their product.”

Covers may not display calls to action or references to Facebook features such as “Like this Page”, purchase or pricing info such as “40% off” or “Download at our website”, or contact information such as web address. Rajaram says “brands have been very positive [about the restrictions] because they don’t want to be seen as overly promotional — it’s a turnoff. Pick a visually stunning, high-resolution image that will delight or intrigue visitors and make them want to scroll down to your updates.

About Section
Below the Cover is your Page’s standard profile picture, name, and two stats: your total Likes and the number of “people talking about this”. The About section shows a description for brands or an address and contact info for local businesses. Users can click through the About link to unfold a map and view other basic info. Be sure to fill out a short, punchy description of your brand’s identity.

Page Apps
The redesign of how Page apps are displayed could be the primary disadvantage of Timeline for Pages. Apps have been relocated from the left navigation sidebar to the right side of the About section. While they appear with thumbnail photos instead of as text links, they’re overshadowed by the massive cover above. There are four app tiles above the fold, and the first is permanently occupied by Photos. The rest can include Likes, Videos, Events, Map and a Page’s custom apps.

Previously, Pages could set a default landing tab that all non-fans would first see instead of the wall when they visited a Page. This is no longer allowed. Instead, users always see the main Timeline view and have to actively click through to custom apps. This means custom apps for your contests, promotions, games, media, coupons, and signup widgets may receive much less engagement from users who find their way to your Page.

Pages also often used “Like-gates” on their default landing app, requiring users to Like a Page in exchange for the ability to use the app. While Like-gates are still permitted, they’re not nearly as powerful since they won’t be the first thing users see when they visit a page.

To edit which apps you display, click the drop-down icon to the right of the tiles, click the ‘+’ button to import your custom apps, and then hover over them and click the pencil to swap them around. I recommend putting the native or custom apps most crucial to your business above the fold, so coupons for ecommerce brands, contests for consumer packaged good companies, events for promoters, etc. Only display the Likes panel if you have a lot of them and want to peer pressure new visitors into Liking your Page.

By default, Page Timelines allow users to send direct, private messages to your Page. This creates a new customer service channel where you can address users’ concerns without having to discuss issues publicly on your Page’s wall / Timeline. Pages cannot proactively send messages, you can only respond to users that have already contacted you.

Since asynchronous customer service through messages is much cheaper than fielding live voice calls, Page messages could create additional ROI if you convince users to message instead of calling. If you find users complaining publicly on your wall, kindly ask them to message you instead and say you’ll resolve their problems there. You’ll need to consistently monitor and respond to messages though, or you’ll risk being perceived as ignoring your fans.

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