Guest Post by Jon Loomer (a Facebook Expert)
Reports have shown that Timeline increases the engagement window from about one hour to two and a half hours. Additionally, my own studies have revealed an increase in participation on custom tabs.
If you are frustrated that your engagement, likes and revenue haven’t all magically gone up since the change was made, you probably do not have a basic understanding of how Timeline can benefit you. The purpose of this post is to explain the four things that you as a small business owner should focus on to get the most out of Facebook Timeline.
This one should be obvious. The new Facebook Timeline utilizes a 851×315 cover photo and a new 160×160 profile photo. You need to be strategic about your imagery. If the images you pick are boring or unprofessional, you will lose first time visitors.
This is a big deal. Before, all pages were largely equally as boring visually. The emphasis was on your content. Other than going to a default landing page, people decided whether or not to like your page based on what you wrote — and based on how your fans interacted.
Content is still important for retention of fans, but the main thing driving new fans will be how you present yourself visually. Consider your company’s branding. Show your personality. Take the time and possible investment to make a good first impression!
I’ll be the first to admit that tabs in the former format on my Facebook page went largely ignored. According to my Insights, people went to one of my tabs, but only because they had no choice (it was a default landing page). Overall, people really didn’t care about those links on the left hand side.
But that’s completely changed now. There are three tabs (in addition to photos) that are featured with 111×74 icons immediately below the cover photo. And while there is no longer a default landing page, fans and non-fans are visiting these tabs more than ever before.
It’s important that you be strategic about this. Don’t just convert the old tabs to new ones and think that your job is done. Do the following…
- Make a list of goals and priorities of your company and Facebook page
- Make a list of things that your fans and potential fans may be looking for
- Collect assets (photos, videos, forms) that you can use for these tabs
- Determine which three are most important to your company
- Create tab icons that are consistent with your brand
Let’s say that your goal is to increase newsletter subscribers. Well, one of your tabs should highlight the benefits of your newsletter and provide an opt-in form.
Maybe you are a service company. One of your tabs should be a visual portfolio or highlight the services and packages that you can provide, complete with a contact form.
Or if you have a specific product or piece of content that you know your customers are looking for, feature that in a tab.
This is something that should take significant thought. Once you’ve developed your tabs, you should then consider order. You can always swap tabs in and out of the featured area to put more emphasis where necessary.
The hardest part for small businesses, of course, is actually creating the tab. I use ShortStack to create my tabs, and they have more than 60 templates to choose from to make the process a whole lot easier. You can read my review of ShortStack here.
Tell Your Story with Milestones
Facebook Timeline also allows brands to tell the story of their company in an interesting way with Milestones. Help fans get to know what you’re about and where you’ve come from by mapping out the many landmarks of your journey. When did your store open its doors? When did you hire your first employee, and who was it? When did you release that exciting product? Create Milestones to highlight these exciting things and provide images to help tell the story.
Pinning and Highlighting
One issue with the old Facebook format was that within hours or days of creating a post, it was buried forever. This was particularly the case with busy walls.
But now you can pick and choose posts that you want to emphasize and “pin” them to the top for up to seven consecutive days. That post then would always live at the top of your Timeline on the left side below your cover photo. This is particularly helpful for new product releases and contests, or anything which you want fans and non-fans to see first when coming to your page.
Additionally, you can “Highlight” a post for greater emphasis, making it stretch across two columns instead of the normal one. This is particularly useful for sharing engaging photos that are wider than they are tall. It also adds variation to the format of your Timeline, making it much more interesting to the eye.
What tips do you have for small businesses struggling to successfully utilize Facebook Timeline? Or if you’re one of those struggling, what are your questions?
About Jon Loomer
Jon is a digital marketing consultant with a unique perspective on social media. He was introduced to Facebook in 2007 while with the NBA (back before Pages) and has been using Facebook for business ever since. Stay in touch by reading his blog on JonLoomer.com, liking his Facebook Page (Jon Loomer Digital) or following along on Twitter (@JonLoomer) or Google+.