Facebook Timeline for Realtors, Everything you wanted to know

Facebook Timeline for RealtorsOn March 30th Facebook will be making changes to your Facebook Page.   Facebook Timeline for Realtors is a bit of challenge because the Cover Photo can not have logos, arrows, etc.  You’ll need to work hard to find images which represesent both you and your business.

We’ve focused on local area photos and events we’ve attended.




But the covers photo is really just the start to the changes and we’re going to cover them for you in this post.

It is important for all businesses to be aware of the impending changes and make any necessary adjustments to their pages before the March 30 launch date!

Continue reading for a more detailed look at the changes, as well as helpful guidance for making the most of the shift!
The Major Changes

• Image-centric layout (cover image: 850 × 315 pixels)
• ‘Timeline’ structure (reverse chronological), as well as new ‘Milestone’ feature
• New admin panel features
• Basic admin panel always at top when logged in showing recent activity
• More prominent About section
• More controls on how posts are displayed (star, pin and highlight stories)
• No more default landing page tabs
• What was previously known as a “page tab” or “landing page” is now called an “app”
• Apps/tab pages are now 810 pixels wide (up from 520px)


New Features And Updates

New Look And Feel
The very first thing you’ll observe when visiting a business page using timeline is the new look and feel, which is characterized by the two enormous images at the top of the page—the cover and profile photos—as well as the timeline itself. (In fact, if you want a pithy summary of the new page design, this will do: image-heavy.

Under the two featured images is a film-strip of thumbnail photos; these are your Page Apps. (‘Apps’ is a bit of a misnomer; for most users, these apps will simply be page tabs that lack any special app-like functionality.) Other visual changes: the ‘About’ section is given much greater prominence. Your photos, events, and custom apps are now easier for people to find.

Quotable: “I think the new Timeline-based Page offers a much more visually compelling experience, and gives businesses the chance to have a ‘history’ on Facebook just like normal users do. But it also eliminates custom tab landing pages, which have always been recommended as a great way to increase engagement, ‘likes’ and so forth. So there are some pros and cons. I’ll be interested to watch how local businesses adapt to the new Facebook Pages with Timeline.” – Matt McGee, online marketing consultant, writing for SmallBusinessSEM.com

Admin Panel
The new admin panel is, according to Facebook, “a place where you can respond to people using your page and quickly see how your page is performing.” From your admin panel, you can view notifications; respond to messages; view page insights; access your activity log to curate content on your page; access the Edit menu to make changes to your page’s settings; open the admin panel by clicking Admin Panel above the date selector in the upper-right corner of your page.

Perhaps the best new update to the admin panel is the ability to receive private messages from Facebook users to your company, removing customer issues and complaints from your public-facing wall.

“Pin” And “Star” Content
You or your designated page admin can now “pin” one post to the top of your page so that fans can see it “above the fold” for up to seven days (or until new content is pinned). Pinned content is marked with an orange flag. Your business can also mark posts as “starred.” When you star a post, it expands to widescreen, drawing more visitor attention on your timeline.

Tip: To hide a post from your feed, hover over the top-right menu of a post, click the drop-down menu and choose hide story to remove the story you’re looking at.

Activity Log
Your activity log is where you view, manage, and organize all the posts on your page (including ones you chose to hide from your timeline). You can filter stories by date or type (see “All”), and view photos, comments, posts by others, etc. You can also hide, delete, or star individual stories, as well as change dates of stories on your timeline.

To access the activity log for a page:

1. From the Admin Panel, click Manage
2. Choose ‘Use Activity Log’

Tip: Use page insights to find out when people engage most with your content and post during those hours. Facebook’s internal research shows that, on average, “people visit and engage with Pages most often between 9pm and 10pm.”

Friend Activity
Now, when people visit your new business page, they’ll see how their personal Facebook friends have interacted with your page. Friend activity used to be located in a sub-tab, but now it’s front and center, just below the About section. If users tag your business page in one of their posts or check in at your business’ location, the people they originally shared with will see these stories highlighted on your timeline.

HubSpot helpfully puts this change in context: “In a nutshell, this means that your page will now include more elements of social proof; if a visitor to your page sees that he/she has friends who have interacted with your page, they might be more enticed to stick around and become a fan themselves.” Social proof is powerful stuff!

New Restrictions For Business Pages

Cover Photos: Important Restrictions!
Unfortunately, Facebook has a set of rather severe—we’d go as far as to say draconian—restrictions for the new cover photos. These cover photo elements are OFF LIMITS (note: the following text is printed verbatim from Facebook Pages Terms as of Feb. 29, 2012):

i. price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on socialmusic.com”;
ii. contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;
iii. references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
iv. calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”

While there are a lot of great new features in the new layout that augment your business’s Facebook presence, these restrictions are unfortunate indeed…

How To Leverage The New Design

Most Important: Think Visual
In the new design, your cover photo (located on your front page) will be an expansive 850 × 315 pixels. Your app pages (previously known as tab pages) will be 810 pixels wide, compared to the current 520 pixels. Because images will appear larger and more prominently on your page, it’s essential that you post great visual content for your fans and visitors. Use photos, charts, infographics, and other imagery to take full advantage of Facebook’s new layout!

What’s more, the new layout gives increased prominence (and thus increased visitor attention) to posted photos—much more than they did in the old “wall” layout. You can take advantage of this change by posting photos along with status updates, adding oomph to your updates.

• Cover photo: Use a photo that captures the essence of your brand and showcases your product or service. “We’ve found that people have a better experience viewing your timeline when they see a cover that is as unique and individualized as you are. This helps people learn more about you. It also helps us prevent spam, fake profiles, and other content that can detract from your experience on Facebook.” – Facebook Help Center

• Profile: Per Facebook, we suggest using a logo that people associate with your business, and make sure to use a file that scales well from 180×180 pixels to 32×32 pixels, as your profile picture follows your business on Facebook as a thumbnail image in news feed posts, ads and sponsored posts.

Fact: According to an internal Facebook study, posts that include a photo album or stand-alone photo can generate 2X more engagement than other post types.

Apps Are The New Tabs (Read This!)
Here’s the bad news: with the new timeline design for pages, Facebook no longer allows you to set a default landing tab for your business page. Also, the new layout replaces the existing 520-pixel-width page tab configuration and replaces it with a new 810-pixel layout.

The upshot? Existing page tab content will look centered—which is NOT IDEAL—in the middle of the 810-pixel layout without any adjustments

The good news: you can (and should) retool your custom page tabs in the Views & Apps toolbar below your cover photo. Read the below tip…

Tip #1: One of the most pressing to-do items for your business will be to update the images and tab functionality of your apps (i.e. tab pages). Trust us, they will be ignored if not optimized for the new user experience. Also, all applications that remain on a brand’s page will need new icons. The new dimensions are 111×74 pixels.

Tip #2: Choose great images to represent the items in your Views & Apps toolbar. To customize the way these apps appear on your page:

1. From the Admin Panel, click Manage
2. Choose Edit Page from the dropdown menu
3. In the Apps section, click Edit Settings for the specific app image
4. Upload the new image you’d like to use to feature that app (dimensions: 111×74 pixels)

Quotable: “Although the method behind the madness may have changed, you can still drive up likes, fan-gate content and do everything else a well-designed Default Landing Tab did using the new Facebook Timeline. It just takes a tad more creativity.” ¬– Jim Belosic, CEO and co-founder of ShortStack, a Facebook platform-based application helping businesses build customized tabs, writing for SmartBlogs.com

Rock The New Milestone Feature
The new Milestone feature lets your business highlight some of your biggest accomplishments (i.e. awards, product launches, media mentions, and fan growth). Milestone images are set at 843×403 pixels. You create a new milestone via the status update box, which will prompt you to input the following information about your milestone. Back-dated milestones, such as the year your company was founded, are allowed too.

Quotable: “Milestones present an important and dramatic opportunity to educate the public, humanize the brand and remove a perception of corporate anonymity. Our analyses of Page engagement have continually shown that brands posting content that depicts behind-the-scenes activities, exclusive updates or promotions encourages user interactions and promotes higher engagement rates.” ¬– Victoria Ransom, founder and CEO of Wildfire Interactive, writing for Mashable.com

Star/Highlight Your Best Posts On Your Timeline
Make sure to expose visitors of your page to your most important content. To do so, make your default setting ‘Allowed on Timeline’ by checking ‘Everyone can post to {Your} timeline’ in the ‘Manage Permissions’ section of your page settings.

To give posts prominent placement on your timeline (so they take up the total width of your timeline)

1. Access your Activity Log
2. Choose Highlight on Timeline to star particular posts

Use The New ‘Pin To Top’ Command For Business Promotions
Businesses can now pin content to the tops of their pages for up to seven days. To anchor updates about company promotions, news or events “above the fold”:

1. Hover over post with your mouse
2. Click the pencil icon in the top right corner
3. Choose Pin to Top
4. Re-pin every seven days as desired

Write A Compelling About Description
Now that your About section has much greater prominence (it used to be buried in the Info tab, now it’s front and center above the scroll line), you’ll want to make sure that it packs a punch, so take time to rewrite and refine a compelling statement about your business. (You might consider giving the job to your best wordsmith.)

Tip: Keep it short and direct. The short part is easy, since you’re only given 150 characters worth of space (which is a medium-length sentence). “Think mission statement rather than an entire company biography,” says Angela West, writing for PCWorld.

Monitor Friend Activity Closely
In the new design, the ‘friend activity’ pane—which displays how a user’s friends are interacting with your page—is given above-the-fold treatment, which means it’s very prominent. This is awesome if your visitors’ friends are saying great things about your company. But…

Criticism: “Companies should be most concerned about the Friend Activity. While it’s a great feature if everyone is speaking in glowing terms about your company, negative comments have a way of bubbling to the top faster than positive ones. If a company is concerned about reputation management, it should have the option of turning off Friend Activity. And if it were up to me, I’d roll in the Activity Log to the Admin Panel rather than having two separate consoles to manage my page.” – Angela West, technology reporter, writing for PCWorld.com
Next Step: Take The Tour!

After logging in to your Facebook business page as an administrator, you’ll see the following message: Click the green ‘Start Tour’ button to get started. Follow the prompts and have a look at what’s new!

And if you need any help let us know!

We would love to hear your thoughts.