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Facebook Makes ‘Pages’ Better – So They Say

  |   jim's digital lab

Anyone who has been on Facebook for longer than a year probably feels a sense of frustration when your comfortable Facebook business page is changed for seemingly no reason. Worse, it sometimes changes at random times of the year with no prior warning. This has happened time and again over the last couple of years as the Facebook business platform (called Facebook Pages) has evolved its look-and-feel, and has altered how you can control some portions of your Page…but, not all.
 
In fact, there is always a reason for the change. These evolutions are couched in user friendly dimensions (“We’re from Facebook and we’re here to help you!”). But, let’s face it, these changes would NOT be done if Facebook itself didn’t benefit in a very big way (namely…advertising dollars).
 
To be fair, all user platforms do change over time. The more a company like Facebook learns from user experience feedback, as new technology is integrated into the software and as economic pressure is applied to increase revenue, changes will be made. Facebook used to be a 300 pound chimp; today, it has become an 800-pound gorilla, dueling constantly with the other giants (Google now the biggest gorilla in the jungle) for CPM and PPC-based advertising dollars.


How Does This Affect You?
 
Titleist Facebook Page CropOn March 30, 2012, all Facebook Pages will convert to a radically new look intended to make Facebook pages feel a bit more like a website landing page. Unfortunately, businesses have not been able to vote on this change, or delay its execution. Facebook is pretty hardcore about making the transition, and will change your site over to the new Timeline framework with our without your permission. However, Facebook will enable you to launch your new Timeline design sooner than March 30 if you are ready to go.
 
The best thing you can do is to accept the inevitable (presuming you see the value in being on Facebook longer-term), and get your team involved in the process of adapting your site to the change with new posts and new engagement strategies. If you are currently using a default “welcome” tab or promotional tab as a landing page, these will go away on March 30. They will be pushed back into the tab box menu position on the landing page.
 
What’s new and really cool is that you can embed a large “header” image that spans the width of your available space. Facebook calls these “Covers.” At 850×315 pixels, this is a rather large space, which golf courses, real estate communities or other businesses can certainly use to display a positive brand or company image.
 
However, these cannot be “call to action” promotional banners, they cannot include a text URL within the graphic and they cannot be overtly “commercial” in nature. For all practical purpose, Facebook will ensure you don’t make your “Cover” an over-sized advertisement. Why? Because it would compete with Facebook’s desire to sell advertising on the right rail of your Facebook page. Facebook’s crawlers will look for violations and will likely remove your Cover without your permission if it violates the terms of service.
 
But, you can create a Cover with a dramatic panoramic image of one of your featured holes, or club house or an overhead shot of your residential community. Anything that helps show off WHO and WHAT you are will work. Think big and think outside the box. It can help create a lasting impression on those who visit your Facebook Page.
 
You will also be able to display an inset logo box that must be a minimum of 180 pixels square. This will overlap your cover image using an off-set position in the lower left side of your cover image. A colorful, bold image that can work within a square shape will work. Your creative designers will need to work a little overtime if your logo is a wide, rectangular size.


No More Landing Page Tabs
 
Previous versions of Facebook allowed the business to pre-set the default “landing page” for your Facebook page. If you had a special promotion, a contest, a “welcome video” from your general manager or a tee time booking page as your default page for all new visitors, that option will no longer be available to you. Facebook will now require its new Timeline page to be the only possible landing page which site visitors will see. You can build and host promotional tabs and other functional pages on your Facebook page, but these cannot be the landing page defaults.


Pinning a Post
 
One nifty new feature, one that I believe is a bone thrown back to us as page builders, is something called “Pinning.” In the web world, these are called “sticky posts.” The emerging success of a new pinboard-based social media platform called Pinterest has no doubt been instrumental in Facebook’s new pinning feature. Under Facebook’s new guidelines, you’ll be able to create a post that sticks to the top of your timeline post section. The pinned item could announce a new special promotional opportunity (with link), or contest, or direct a visitor to an inner landing page on your website where you are hosting or featuring something new and exciting. Facebook will allow you to pin that post to the top for 7 days. After 7 days, that post will revert to its position along the date timeline on the main Facebook page. You can create new pinned items as each one expires, but you cannot extend the pinning period for any one post.


New Box Tabs
 
Immediately under the Cover image, you’ll see a number of boxes into which you can place images or banners of one kind or another. You can re-order these with the exception of the first position box…that will be controlled by Facebook. You’ll be able to edit these by hovering your cursor over the tab box, select edit for each box and then move them to a new position in the tab section.


More Visible “About” Tab
 
The About tab box was pretty much invisible on previous versions of Facebook pages. As a result, your value statement, business philosophy or company tagline wasn’t seen by anyone unless they really worked hard to find it. The Facebook change to the Timeline design will elevate the About box so that it is very visible…just under the cover/logo image header section of the Facebook page. While you won’t be able to write your company’s entire history here, you will be able to create a very strong statement about your company, whether it’s “Where Customers Come First” or “Arizona’s #1 Rated Golf Course.” Take some time to think about what you want to say here, because it will be front and center for every Facebook Page visitor.


Embedding Video
 
Images and Video are engaging, eye-appealing ways to attract site visitors to your Facebook Page and hold them there. It will now be very easy to place video on the Timeline so that it can be readily seen and played back from the Timeline landing page. This could be a welcome video you “pin” to the top post position for 7 days, or a guided tour of a new spec home in your residential community.


What About Advertising?
 
There are two things to think about as it relates to advertising on your Facebook Page.

  1. The right rail of your Facebook Page is totally controlled by Facebook. This is where you’ll see small ads appearing on your site. These are sold by Facebook based on PPC bid pricing, demographic, geographic, topic-related and/or psychographic selection criteria that PPC advertisers will select when placing ads with Facebook. This real estate is not yours to sell. In the past, Facebook would place between 3-5 small ads positioned vertically in the right-side panel of your page. Facebook is experimenting with 7-9 ad spots in the right sidebar position, so you’ll likely see these numbers go up and down as they continue looking at click-rates and other value metrics to choose the right number of ads to appear on each Facebook Page.
  2. If you are an Advertiser that wishes to use Facebook for PPC or CPM campaigns, then you may be familiar with how you select your ad criteria. The amount of your budget, the click value, the frequency of your buys, and the perceived strength of your keywords (measured by click-through rates) will help determine whether your ad is at the top of the vertical stack, or at the bottom. The ad rotation sequencing is one of those dark mysteries controlled by Facebook. But, keep in mind that instead of the previous limited number of ad spots on the right rail, this number will effectively double in size creating the potential for more advertising clutter and lower CTRs for those further down the vertical ad stack.



Seeing is Believing
 
Several large companies, including a few in the golf industry, have already made the transition to Facebook’s new Timeline page design. You should log into your Facebook account and you can get the full effect at a few of these sites:
 
Titleist www.facebook.com/titleist

Starbuck’s Coffee www.facebook.com/Starbucks

Ford Motors www.facebook.com/ford

PING Golf www.facebook.com/PINGGolfFans

Electronic Arts (EA) www.facebook.com/EA


Can We Help?
 
Communication Links has helped build, launch and manage many Facebook pages for our clients. And, with full-time graphic/web designers on our staff, and a dedicated social media specialist, we have the in-house team to help you make the transition quickly and easily. This may be especially important in developing your cover and logo image header spot at the very top of the new Timeline page. Or, in helping you with your overall Facebook strategy.

Give any of us a call or drop us an email. We’ll be delighted to help you in any way we can.