When logging onto your Facebook account today (March 30th 2012), to carry out the daily social media marketing tasks, you may have been hit by some disruption, such as an on-screen message advising you that your business page was temporarily unavailable and to try again later.

Seeing this message can understandably cause your heart to flutter amid panic, but worry not, the message is a result of Facebook rolling out their compulsory “Timeline” design for business pages, which are set to give Facebook Pages a major facelift – but will also require businesses to carry out a few alterations to make sure they still have an engaging and inviting page.

The Facebook Timeline for business pages was first brought to our attention back in September, at the annual F8 Conference, and from today it is compulsory across all of Facebook; but for those businesses who missed the original announcement or that haven’t got around to complying with the new design, we offer some tips and advice on what you should be doing to create an engaging and inviting page.

Perhaps the two immediate and striking changes to the design are the large banner image across the top, and the change from one column to two – which sees activities on the right and status updates on the left.

Other changes which have been introduced as a result of the “Facebook Facelift” include thumbnail pictures now being bigger in size, the ability to add “milestones” as well as the option to “pin” important messages to the top of the page, making them more visible for visitors.

If this all sounds too complicated or like too much work to carry out in one go, don’t fret, below we’ll provide a few simple steps on how to take advantage of the new design and functions, helping you to ensure your page offers the “wow” effect for all visitors.

Picture This:

If you’re going to carry out any design work today on your Facebook Page, then the banner image is the most important feature to look at.

Currently, under the new design, without an image, you’re page will be lacking that cutting edge that other brand pages now offer; but within a few clicks of the mouse button your page too can look inviting.

The idea of the banner image is capture the culture and essence of a brand, whilst also showcasing products (if applicable) – and as it is the first thing visitors to the page will see, you need to make sure that it accurately reflects your brand.

To add a banner image, once you’re logged in to the company page, click “add cover” and then upload your desired image from your computer, it really is as simple as that; and should you introduce a new product in a few months time, or change your business brand image, following the same process you can change the image.

N.B. The minimum size for the banner image is 399 pixels wide.

When adding the banner image to the Facebook page, it is also worth checking out the profile picture you’re currently using, as this will show in the bottom corner of the banner, and therefore needs to stand out still. It is recommended to use a high-resolution image which can be easily associated with your business.

Important Milestones:

In life, both as a business and individual we reach important milestones, so why not share them via Facebook?

The “Timeline” allows businesses to add larger pictures, videos, and link stories, under milestones, which if incorporated correctly will engage your audience further; and businesses can use milestones to define key moments in their history – unfortunately for those businesses planning ahead, it isn’t possible to add milestones for the future.

It is worth noting, before you look to add a milestone for your businesses five year anniversary, if you haven’t added a milestone to your business page before Facebook will ask that the very first milestone is about your Page itself. They want you to post the date the business was founded, started, opened, created, or launched.

Adding a milestone to Facebook is also as simple as adding a banner image, with an option appearing within the status update next to “status, photo, ask question”.

Pin That:

From time to time businesses are going to have important announcements, such as key dates, business seminars or special offers. Previously, when advertising these on Facebook, as soon as a new status update was added, it’ll be lost somewhere below.

With the Timeline, this thankfully is now a thing of the past, as businesses can now pin an important message at the top of their page for a period of seven days, ensuring that it remains within the view of their audience.

These are only three design changes which you can (and should) implement within your Facebook Page as soon as you have five minutes.

As a result of the Facebook Timeline, the way fans are able to engage with businesses via the social network is changing. It’s therefore important that you keep on top of your social media marketing and that you keep it fresh and engaging, by changing the banner image from time to time, pinning important announcements and adding milestones.

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