Facebook recently announced they were revamping how their fan pages work. The new pages will use the timeline feature which was launched for facebook users a few months back.
If you go to one of your facebook pages when logged into facebook you will now see a box appear at the top of the screen announcing the new feature. The message also contains a button to preview how your page will look and offering a tour of the new timeline.
The new layout is designed to let companies tell the story of their brand using images, updates and milestones. The goal is to make Pages more engaging and more social.
Along with the new timeline layout there is also a number of improvements to the admin section. The admin panel can be hidden removing the need to navigate to the page to see your changes. People can now send private messages which you will now be able to respond to.
When looking at the preview you are able to go in and add updates to your timeline including events and milestones from before facebook (the timeline for Coca Cola goes back as far as 1886). Another feature is that you can pin some items to the top of the timeline for up to a week.
From a users perspective the new timeline should offer a unique insight into the brands we follow online and allow more ways to interact with them.
From a brands perspective the new timeline is a bit more of a double edged sword. The timeline will become the default landing page for everyone, any custom landing pages will be resigned to an apps tab which you can highlight via the panels at the top. One saving grace is that you can still direct people to your custom landing page via a URL. Provided you link directly to the specific URL on your blog or in marketing emails you can still utilise your custom landing page.
Another criticism is that items on your timeline take time to load as you scroll down the page. Anyone with a reasonably slow internet connection may well give up fairly quickly if they are interested in anything other than your most recent activity (which begs the questions "what was the point of a timeline?").
Lastly there are limitations on what can appear on your cover image. Under normal circumstances, the cover image would be ideal to highlight promotions or call to actions but these have been ruled out by facebook:
This is a big shift for facebook users and time will tell how people and companies take to the new timeline based pages. With the changes to landing pages and the limitations on cover images may be a hindrance we will have to see how inventive people get with the new features. We will be trying out our own ideas over the coming months and will let you know what we find.