In light of a lot of rumours and speculations, Facebook decided to roll out its Timeline for Brand pages in conjunction with it’s Facebook Marketing Conference. If you admin of a brand page you probably noticed the message on top of your page allowing you to preview the new layout before it’s applied on March 30, 2012.

This has caused some waves in the online community and we at Netmechanic have been following the topics being discussed closely.

Here’s what it means for you:

Timeline look & feel

If you’ve activated Timeline for your personal page you already know what it looks and feels like. There’s space for a cover photo at the top and the page is divided into two columns – posts on the left and activity on the right. According to presenters at Facebook for Marketers today there will be the ability to feature a post at the top too, so if you have an important message it won’t get pushed down by other messages in your feed. You can also have certain posts span both columns, highlighting a certain message or post.

Cover photos add an amazing opportunity to really brand your page beautifully. This is the place to highlight your brand on a scale never before seen on Facebook. Ideal dimensions for your cover photo are 850px high x 315px wide. Remember to leave a space for your profile picture on the left side. A number of people have already done very creative combinations of their profile and cover pictures.

Milestones

Just as with Timeline for profiles, Timeline for brands will allow admins to add milestones to the page. Add the date your company was founded and any important moments in the company’s history. People like connecting on a personal level with a company and pages that depict these important events continually have higher engagement rates so make sure to add these important events to your page and if possible make it visual too. Coca Cola have done a really gorgeous job of this, and you can few their page here,http://www.facebook.com/cocacola

Messaging

Fans will now have the ability to message brand pages directly. This is an important update and a long time coming! Now our fans can connect with us privately rather than by posting messages directly on the wall. This feature will be especially helpful for customer service issues. Be sure to respond to any messages your receive quickly – just as with posts on your wall.

Tabs and Likegate

This could be the biggest disadvantage for Timeline for brands, and the one that has caused the most controversy. Facebook tabs are now moved from the left sidebar to across the top and we’ve lost the ability to set a default landing tab. There is room for three additional apps above the fold. Since it’s possible to swap positions with other apps our recommendation is to place your three most important apps after photos and assume the rest won’t be visited. The disadvantage here is that even with this placement they are overshadowed by the cover photo and are no longer the first thing new visitors see when they come to your page. It would seem the previously functionality of Likegate whereby admins could determine what content a non-fan would see over a fan has been removed.

The plan forward? It’s more important than ever to engage through the newsfeed. Also use your cover photo for important messaging or campaigns rather than relying on landing tabs. Just be wary that you can’t run any promotions in your cover photo to encourage people to like your page. Facebook seem to be taking this point very seriously.

Friend Activity

When fans visit your page they’ll now see their friends interactions with your page near the top of the feed. That will give a much more personal feel to their experience with your page and is designed to help reinforce that word of mouth referral power. Remember though that a negative mention will appear there too, so as always it is important to address issues as they occur.

Conclusion

There is a lot of doom and gloom hovering around the net about Facebook’s rollout of Timeline and the implications it might have on company’s online campaigns, but we feel it offers room for a lot of new and innovative methods of marketing on the Facebook platform, content will be king again.

Netmechanic will be launching our new Fan Page during the course of the day, we want to make sure we use all the options Facebook have given us to their full advantage.

Have you activated your brand page yet? What are your thoughts?