Facebook surprised users today by releasing Timeline for pages early this morning. While the change was expected, most people had anticipated it happening later today at the official press conference. If your business has a Facebook page this change is going to impact you. While the change is optional right now, it won’t be for long. As of March 30th, Facebook will make the Timeline layout mandatory for all business pages. Timeline offers some of the same features as your current business page, but also has some big changes that you should prepare for. Here are a few things you should know:
- You have the option of taking your Timeline page live before the automatic switch on March 30th.
- A preview stage is available. You and your admins can see the preview but the public can’t. Take advantage of this feature to get your Timeline page exactly how you want it before taking it live.
- The layout will change to include a large cover photo that will span the entire width of your page. This will be the first thing that people will see when they land on your page so choose wisely. This photo can be changed as often as you like.
- You will have a smaller inset photo that will be your profile picture. This photo must be at least 180px wide and is a square image. This photo can be changed as often as you like.
- You can have a maximum of 12 apps showing on your Timeline page. You can change the order that they appear so make sure to put the most important ones first.
- You will have an Admin Panel at the top of your Timeline page. This is designed to help you keep track of the activity on your Timeline, includes insights into your page activity, and allows you to respond to posts on your Timeline by others.
- Private messages are now available for business pages. Notifications will appear in your Admin Panel.
- You can star, hide, or pin things on your Timeline. Starring something will make it wider, the hide feature allows you to hide or delete a post entirely, and pinning something will move it to the top of your Timeline for seven days.
- The tab width is changing from 520px to 760px.
- The default landing tab option is gone. Timeline is the new default.
- Your custom tabs and apps will still work.
- You can set milestones on your Timeline. These can be anything from reaching a certain number of fans, to winning an award, or opening a new store.
- People will see stories about how their friends are interacting with your page throughout your Timeline page.
Facebook is touting the change to Timeline as a way to help business pages drive engagement. Whether you believe that to be the case or not, the change is becoming mandatory soon. The best thing that you can do at this point is prepare for it. Take the time now to walk through Facebook’s tour of the Timeline feature, choose a cover photo, and update your profile picture. If you take the change a day at a time you will be well prepared when Facebook moves your cheese on March 30th.