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Are You Ready for the New Facebook Changes?

Business Owners take note — major changes are coming to your Facebook page on March 30. Here is a brief synopsis of some of the major changes you need to be aware of to be ready for the changeover.

There has been a lot of news over the last two weeks about the upcoming changes to Facebook Business Pages. The changes take effect on March 30, which means you have only a few more days to get everything ready. 

Facebook Business Pages will be converting to the "Timeline" format, similar to the personal profile Timeline format.  Here are some of the changes you need to know about.

Cover Photo & Profile Picture

One of the most obvious changes you will see is the new "Cover Photo."  Instead of a profile picture on the left and the photo strip across the top, you now have one large cover image across the top of your page.

I've included a screen shot of the new Red Bull cover photo. Red Bull added an image to their page which instantly captures your attention. The maximum dimensions of this photo are 850 pixels by 315 pixels. There are specific restrictions associated with this photo — primarily that you are not allowed to have any calls to action in your cover photo. The specific cover photo details are: Cover images must be at least 399 pixels wide and may not contain:

  • Price or purchase information, such as "40% off" or "Download it at our website";
  • Contact information, such as web address, e-mail, mailing address or other information intended for your Page's About section;
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site feature;
  • Calls to action, such as "Get it now" or "Tell your friends."

Due to these new restrictions, brands are going to have to alter their Facebook marketing strategy. This new cover photo needs to "speak" to your visitor and tell them in an instant what your page is all about.

Another change you will notice is the profile picture. The profile picture size is now 180 pixels by 180 pixels, removing the ability to create a large banner for your profile photo. This profile picture is the same picture that will appear next to your posts at the size of 30 pixels by 30 pixels and Facebook recommends placing your logo here.

Pinned and Starred Posts

Facebook is becoming more visual, as evidenced in the size of videos and pictures in the posts.  Pictures and videos are now larger and more visible. This is great news for companies who want to showcase those products. In addition, you can highlight a story by clicking the star icon. This makes the story span the entire width of your wall, making it very easy to find. You can also pin a story to the top of your Timeline. This keeps the story in the upper left corner of your timeline for a week. A pinned story would be a great place to highlight an event or promotion at your business. You pin a story by clicking on the pencil icon on the top right of the post.

Default Landing Tab and Applications

The largest change is the removal of the default landing tab.  Many businesses use a custom application to create a default landing tab that first-time visitors see. As of March 30, the application will still work, but you can not make a certain application the default landing page. 

The custom welcome tab will not disappear, it will just be shown in the list of applications on your page. Your page can showcase 12 applications; however only four applications will show in the top row of your timeline.  If your page has a large number of applications, you may want to move them around to change their order and thus which applications are showcased.  Please note: Your photos will always appear in the first position, so you really only have three more spaces to assign apps to. The new app buttons do provide for some creative customization of your page.  Although the default landing tab will be disappearing, you can customize your apps with custom photos and get creative on what apps you will use to engage with your visitors.  Brands could also potentially use these apps to engage customers with a coupon or other call to action.

If you love your custom Welcome page, there is a way for your visitors to still see it. Every tab or app on your page has a unique url. You can include that url in your email signature line, blog author description and more.

Company Milestones

You can add events to your Timeline to make it more interesting. One particular event you will want to add is Milestones. This allows you to add big events that have occurred in your company, such as when you opened your doors, the launch of a new product, or achieving a specific award. To add a Milestone, simply click on the line that runs through the middle of your Timeline and select "Milestone."  Fill out the information and you are done! Be sure to add photos to visually engage your visitors.

Facebook Offers

Facebook will soon be rolling out their "Facebook Offers."  This replaces Facebook Deals and is supposed to be a much more robust system. Posts from Facebook Offers will be sent through the news feed of your fans, making your offer more visible. Fans can share the offer with others as well. Once a fan clicks on the offer, Facebook, e-mails the offer to the fan directly.

Admin Changes

There is now a new Admin Interface, where you have access to your Insights, as well as the new messaging system.  Fans can send direct, private messages to the Admins of a page.  This message feature can be turned on or off in the "Manage Permissions" area of the Admin Dashboard.  If you do leave the capability on, be sure you have someone available to manage these messages on a daily basis.

So what do you think?  There are a lot of changes included here, as well as some additional ones that will appear in another post.  Leave a comment below regarding what you think about the changes.  Questions?  Leave those in the comment box as well. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lisa Schulteis March 21, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Hi CaledoniaGirl! Thanks for piping in! People have different reactions to Facebook (and social media in general). Some people have completely sworn it off while others have it completely integrated into their life. My personal opinion is that Facebook is not a fad. If you watch how integrated society is becoming with social media and mobile media, I think we are becoming more and more reliant on it. Apps are designed every day. People spend large amounts of the online time on Facebook. And we can do just about anything with our smart phones. It will be interesting to see how this continues to grow.
Rees Roberts March 21, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Here is another aspect to the Timeline "feature" which has not been discussed. (at least I don't think so). Employers ask job seekers for Facebook passwords. So, Facebook lays it all out and employers know this. Then because the applicant really needs the job he/she has to give up their privacy in order for the supreme HR department to look for dirt on their prospective employee. They must give up their user ID and password. This is simply wrong. Check this Associated Press news story about it: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_JOB_APPLICANTS_FACEBOOK?SITE=CAVAL&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT Don't even breath a comment that goes something like "hey if you don't have anything to worry about then give it to them." The Facebook expectation is privacy. It just doesn't pass the smell test for fairness.
Lisa Schulteis March 21, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Hi Rees - thanks for your comments. Facebook privacy is a HUGE topic. People need to be very aware of and responsible for setting the privacy settings on their personal profiles. Whether a company asks you for login information or not, they may be able to see large amounts of your profile depending on how tight your privacy options are set. One of the first things to look at is your posts. Each post has a little icon right next to the time stamp. If that icon is a globe, all of your posts are public. I personally do not recommend leaving your settings at "public." Posts on Facebook (and Twitter and other sites) are indexed by the search engines and I don't think most people will want ALL of their thoughts found. As for companies asking for logins, I can't even imagine how I would answer that question. I think it will be interesting to see if the legal system gets further involved in cases where companies are asking for actual login information. Remember - privacy settings do only pertain to personal profiles. Facebook business pages are completely open to the public and businesses need to be aware of that. Incorporating that "openness" into their marketing strategy is key. Although the business pages are going to the "timeline format", the privacy settings will not apply to those pages.
Samantha Cook March 22, 2012 at 01:34 PM
I can understand that timelines are good for businesses, but for me I really can't get used to the timeline and don't really like it. I liked how my old profile was and wish i could go back to it.
Lisa Schulteis March 22, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Samantha - it definitely takes some getting used to. I held off on changing my personal profile to the timeline format for a long time. Now that I have switched it over, I find that I am adjusting to the layout. Change is inevitable with Facebook. :)

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