Facebook made it official today on the Today Show no less. The long anticipated changes to Facebook brand pages – switching to the timeline format – is now available to all brand pages. But Facebook hasn’t played god with us and flipped the switch – they’re actually giving us a month to absorb the change - and create a plan, design, and test it.
If you are an administrator for your organization’s Facebook page, you no doubt noticed the alert that invited you preview your page, take a tour, and gave you the option of publishing it for all the world to see. Between now and March 30th, only Fan Page admins can see the changes. On March 3oth, Facebook will flip the switch, but if you are ready before then you can publish your page. Many big brands – like the Today Show – already have and their page includes a nifty engaging app called “Timeline Quiz.”
Livestrong is one of the nonprofit early adopters that has published their brand page using the new format. Others are exploring and testing and fixing glitches or simply checking out the new features, like the administrator’s dashboard. We got a peek at the new features and functionality – and we now have a 30 days to prepare, so we don’t have to drop everything and have a new page up in the next 25 minutes! We can review the changes, figure out a strategy, and implement the changes.
Here’s my suggestions:
1. Strategy and Work Flow: Understand how the changes impacts your editorial strategy and how you will administrator the page. I shared a couple of resources and tips that you can use to have a brief strategy discussion with your team. After you have identified how you will integrate your branding strategy, revise your editorial/content strategy, and administrative work flow, you’re ready to get into some nitty gritty.
2. Take the Tour. Block out an hour to sit down and take the tour and preview your page. I would print out a copy of this useful guide published by Facebook that summarizes the feature changes. Go through the tour and take notes. See if your old profile image works with the new format. You might also want to check out how some brands have already implemented the changes. Mashable has this post.
3. Bye Bye Default Landing Tabs: You will also notice that the landing tabs have now disappeared, and like the individual profiles, if created with an app it appears as boxes on the top. This is a change that some nonprofits do not like. But, there is a new feature called “Pinned Posts” which are posts that remain at the top of your timeline. Think of these pinned posts as your old landing tab. A pinned post only stays at the top for 7 days. So, this is where you’ll have to figure what your weekly call to action is. Looks like the emphasis is square on engagement versus getting new likes.
4. Profile and Cover Images: Many nonprofits may not have the graphic designer resources and will need to take a DYI approach, while others will need to provide their designers with nitty gritty information like image size for the cover age. Here’s a quick cheat sheet. Also keep in mind that there are some rules around the cover image about what information you can or can’t include.
5. Administrative Dashboard: Facebook has given us a nice administrative dashboard that let’s us see our metrics and fan activity in an easy to glance screen. If you aren’t measuring how your content is engaging and resonating with your fans as part of your content strategy decision-making, hop to it. Here’s some tips and ideas to get you started. For those of you who already have a measurement habit, you might notice that FB Insights data has been slow lately. That is being fixed. But the big news according to TechCrunch is that Insights is planning to offer “real time data” analysis. But remember, to get the best results you need both real-time and trend data.
6. Private Messaging To Administrator: Your page administrators will be able to communicate privately with fans using the page identity. This will make it easier for a team approach to managing your fan page community. It will be good think through how you will handle and manage private communications with fans.
7. Prepare for your launch: Plan out how you want to launch your brand to your fans. What are you going to say about it? How are you going to get the word out on your page and other channels.
I put together a small pinboard of the resources in this post to help you plan for the change over the next month. There’s lots of discussion on at my Facebook Page about the changes, so come join us!
What’s your plan for switching to the new format? Share in the comments below.