Facebook pages have changed. That means your business strategy will need to change.
In fact, Facebook has made many new changes that will impact anyone with a Facebook page.
These changes came to light at the Facebook’s fMC 2012 Conference. Here is an overview of the changes and how brands can take advantage of some of the new features.
#1: Cover Photo and Profile Image
Obviously one of the biggest changes that we all knew was coming was the cover photo. You now have one large image to showcase your page. This image must be a minimum of 399 pixels across to be used as the cover photo. But you can have a photo cover designed to take advantage of the extra space you get. The cover photo maximum dimensions are 850 x 315 pixels.
One of the biggest restrictions is the fact that you can’t have any calls to action in your cover photo. You can’t tell people to like or share your page or have any contact information at all, including your web address, phone number or mailing address. These restrictions will require some creativity in drawing attention to your business without some of the methods that have been used in the profile pictures recently.
The profile picture size has been changed to 180 x 180 pixels. It appears next to every post in the news feed as a 30 x 30 pixel picture. The profile picture is best used for your logo or other eye-catching picture without a lot of words.
#2: Larger, Highlighted and Pinned Posts
One of the Facebook’s mantras during the conference was the way we tell stories with Facebook. To help you tell your stories, the pictures and videos are now larger and more eye-catching.
You can also pin the story to the top of your Timeline for up to a week. To do this, click the pencil icon in the upper right of the post and select Pin to Top.
#3: Setting Company Milestones
Milestones are another new feature for you to add that will make your timeline more interesting. You can tell people about big events in the life of your brand or company.
All you need to do is click on the line that runs down the middle of your Timeline and select Milestone. Then you can fill out the information shown.
Because the posts from your fans are in a separate area, your Timeline is now more focused on your story. People may be spending more time reading your Timeline rather than just coming to your page to ask a question. The more visually engaging you can make your Timeline, the better.
#4: New Applications
One of the biggest changes is the removal of the default landing tab. So finding a new way to have a call to action for you customers is essential. Applications will be your best way to customize your brand and showcase the pages you want your fans to visit.
You now have 12 applications you can feature but only 4 will run across the top row. With photos being automatically locked in the first position, which technically leaves you with only three applications you have control over in the top row.
The new app buttons give us an opportunity to be creative. You can change the photo that appears for the app, rename the app to give it a call to action, and also move your apps around to the order you would like to showcase. The custom tab image is 111 x 74 pixels.
#5: Facebook Offers
Only a few companies have access to Facebook Offers currently, but it will be rolled out on a broader scale soon. Facebook Offers are like Facebook Deals only on steroids. The post is sent through the news feeds of your fans, which is much more visible. There are easy ways to share the Offer, both through the post itself and then when the Offer is claimed. Fans get the Offer by clicking the Get Offer link, see the terms and then click the blue Claim Offer button. The offer will go directly to the users email address.
Facebook Offers could be a huge win for small businesses offering things like a “free webinar” or “50% discount” on a particular service. Just make sure you can deliver on the Offer. As of right now, there doesn’t seem to be a way to cap the number of Offers that are claimed.
#6: Facebook Insights, Admin Panel and Messaging
The Admin Panel has much different navigation than before, but everything appears to be there. You will still be able to see the old-style Page Dashboard if you click the Manage drop-down menu and then Edit Page. From the Admin Page, you can also invite your email contacts, invite friends, share your page and create an ad from the Build Audience drop-down menu. Facebook has done a nice job of giving us lots of options to learn more about the new page design from the Help drop-down menu. During the Preview, the Help dropdown menu links to tutorials, but once you publish your Timeline you will have access to some different options.
You can now request a name change (not a URL change), receive messages from your fans and get more information on other pages that are using Timelines. Pages cannot initiate a message to a fan, only a fan can send the page a message. This is turned on by default and can be managed in the Manage Permissions tab on Edit Page.
#7 Facebook Advertising
Another new announcement that was covered in the fMC Conference was some changes to advertising. The ads will be larger and the product names are the Reach Generator and Premium on Facebook. The Reach Generator is designed to reach more of your existing fans than you currently are reaching through the news feed.
Mike Hoefflinger, Facebook’s director of global business marketing, said that currently pages only reach about 16% of their audience each week with posts. With the Reach Generator ads, pages can reach 50% of their fans each week and 75% each month. Beta testing done by brands such as Ben and Jerry’s was able to reach 98% of fans and double engagement.
The Reach Generator ads are designed to connect to your existing audience and will include the Page Post stories. The ads will not be based on CPC or CPM models, but will be an “always on” ad. These ads will be shown on the right side of the page and they will also go into the news feed and mobile streams.
We are really excited about all the new changes to Facebook and the creativity it allows you to have as a small business to really express yourself as a brand. Please contact us if you need any assistance in converting your page to Timeline or creating custom graphics and calls to action for your customers.