Facebook is giving page administrators the chance to preview, tweak, and publish their new design immediately, but the new design won't be forced on you until March 30, 2012. In other words, you have until March 30 to play around with the new designwithout publishing before it must go live. Here's what you need to know to make the most out of the new design and all the features it has to offer.
Start Tour: Click the green 'Start Tour' button to get started.
Step 1A: Set Your Cover Photo
In the 'About' section of the tour, you'll first be prompted to choose what's called a cover photo for your page. If you're familiar with Timeline for personal profiles, this is similar to the large banner image that is shown at the top of the page. For pages, the cover photo dimensions are 851 x 315 pixels. Choose an image that is representative of your brand, and don't be afraid to get creative with it (here are some great examples from Social Fresh to spark some creativity). You can change it as often as you wish, but you should also adhere to Facebook's policies regarding cover photos, which states that cover photos cannot include:
Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website.”
Contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section.
References to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features.
Calls-to-action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”
Covers must not be false, deceptive or misleading, and must not infringe on third parties’ intellectual property.
Once you click 'Next,' Facebook will prompt you to adjust your profile picture, which is the image that will get shown next to each of your updates on your wall and in users' news feeds; it will also appear with any sponsored stories or ads that you run. A logo is a good choice here, but you can choose any image that is representative of your brand. Choose an image that fits 180 x 180 pixels and also looks good when scaled down to a thumbnail size of 32 x 32 pixels.
Step 2: Organize Your Views & Apps
The new design features photos, likes, and apps at the top of your page below your cover photo. Photos are automatically featured in the first spot, but page admins can rearrange the rest to feature the most important ones first. Overall, a total of 12 apps can be shown here, which can be viewed when page visitors click the dropdown arrow (highlighted in orange in the image below). Admins can also customize the images that get shown for each app in this toolbar using the 'Manage' >> 'Edit Page' dropdown via the 'Admin Panel,' which is accessible at the top right of their business page.
Step 3: Star, Hide, or Pin
In step 3 of the tour, Facebook will prompt you to modify the items in your page's timeline. By hovering over individual stories, you can make them wider, hide them from your timeline with the pencil icon, highlight them as important with the star icon, or delete them entirely. A great new feature to note here is that you can pin/anchor a specific story to the top of your timeline for up to 7 days. This means you can highlight specific posts such as remarkable content, calls-to-action for your best marketing offers, or other events/promotions you want to feature. Pinning it to the top of your page will prevent it from getting buried by more recent updates. Perhaps Facebook is offering this functionality in an attempt to make up for its strict cover photo guidelines.
Step 4: Explore the Admin Panel
The new Admin Panel which, as we mentioned earlier, page admins can access from the link at the top right of their business page, allows admins to track all of the activity on their page in one convenient place. From here, admins can easily respond to comments, edit their page settings, access Page Insights (i.e. Facebook page analytics), create new ads, and even change the name of their page.
Step 5: Enable Messages
The Facebook guided tour ends with information about messages, a brand new feature for business pages. Admins can now allow users to send them personal messages. This makes it much easier for admins to have private conversations with their fans. Use this feature when you need to discuss a topic or customer service issue in more depth, and when you'd prefer the conversation not be made public for all page visitors to see. We don't recommend limiting methods of communication available to your fans, but admins can also choose to turn off messaging capability by accessing the Admin Panel, choosing 'Manage' >> 'Edit Page' >> 'Manage Permissions,' and unchecking the 'Messages' box.
In addition to the new features we've covered in the tour above, there are several other features available in the new page design that you should also know about.
About: Although the 'About' section of your Facebook page isn't exactly a 'new' feature available with these updates, it's still worth mentioning due to the prominent placement it gets in the new design (see below). This section gives you the opportunity to briefly explain your business and let new visitors quickly understand what your business is about. Keep it brief so the description doesn't get cut off, and include a URL to your business' website.
Friend Activity: When people visit your new business page, they will now have a more personalized experience because they'll see how their personal Facebook friends have interacted with your page. In other words, if a user tags your business page in one of their posts or checks in at your business' location, the people they originally shared with (i.e. their Facebook friends) will see these stories highlighted for them on your business page's timeline if they visit it. You can learn more about your page's visibility settings here and what people can see here. 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.
As you can see from the screenshot below, the new design shows me how many friends of mine are fans of the HubSpot page. I can also see a post one of my friends made about the HubSpot page.
Milestones: The new design also allows admins to feature what are called "Milestones" on their page. This allows page admins to highlight some of their business' biggest accomplishments, such as fan growth, award wins, product releases, etc. Milestone images are set at 843 x 403 pixels. You create a new (or past) milestone via the status update box, which will prompt you to input the following information about your milestone.
When complete, it will look something like this on your timeline:
Activity Log: Your activity log allows you to view, manage, and organize all the posts on your page (even the ones you chose to hide from your timeline). With this page, you can filter stories by date or story type (see "All"), view spam vs. photos vs. comments vs. posts by others, and the list goes on. From this view, you can also hide, delete, or star (highlight) individual stories, as well as change dates of stories on your timeline. To access the activity log for a page, page admins should visit their Admin Panel and click 'Manage' >> 'Use Activity Log.'
Facebook's new timeline page design places more of an emphasis on visual content like images and videos, so use that to your advantage. According to an internal Facebook study, "posts including a photo album or picture can generate 2X more engagement than other post types." Because these images will now appear larger and more prominently on your page, make it a point of posting your best visual content to your Facebook page, or make more of an effort to make the content you already create more visual. Think photos, charts, infographics, and other content visualizations. And hey -- you can always use it on other visual-oriented social networks like Pinterest and Google+, too!
2) Feature Custom Tabs in Views & Apps Toolbar for Lead Gen
Unfortunately, with the new timeline design for pages, Facebook no longer allows you to set a default landing tab for your business page. All new page visitors will automatically be directed to your timeline. This means that for those of you using the HubSpot Facebook Welcome App, you can no longer make it so that new visitors see that tab upon visiting your page for the first time. That being said, you can feature the app (or other custom apps/tabs) in the Views & Apps toolbar below your cover photo. As we mentioned in step 2 of our setup steps above, be sure to rearrange your Views & Apps icons to show your top tabs to highlight tabs you're using for lead generation.
3) Edit Images That Appear in Your Views & Apps Bar
To build off our last best practice, you'll also want to make sure you choose the best images possible to represent the items in your Views & Apps toolbar. To customize the way these apps appear on your page, visit the Admin Panel, click 'Manage,' and choose 'Edit Page' from the dropdown menu. In the 'Apps' section, click 'Edit Settings' for the specific app image. Then you can upload the new image you'd like to use to feature that app (dimensions should be 111 x 74 pixels). This will enable you to turn your featured apps into compelling calls-to-action, as HubSpot did in the image example above to highlight its HubSpot Welcome App tab. Use these to call attention to your premium content to support Facebook lead generation.
4) Make Sure Your Best Posts Appear 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 HubSpot's timeline' in the 'Manage Permissions' section of your page settings. To highlight posts you want to give prominent placement on your timeline (they'll take up the full width of your timeline), access your Activity Log and select 'Highlight on Timeline' to star particular posts.
5) Pin New Featured Promotions Every 7 Days
As we mentioned in setup step 3, admins are now able to pin content to the tops of their pages for 7 days at a time. Use this to anchor updates about the promotions you want to feature (e.g. events, new marketing offers, other awesome content, etc.) to the top of your page to make them as visible to page visitors as possible. Pinned stories will appear right below the status update compose box. Update your anchor pin every 7 days once the old one expires. To pin an update, hover over a story, click on the pencil icon in the top right corner, and choose 'Pin to Top.'
Conclusion & Additional Resources
As you can tell, there's a lot to learn and get used to with the new Facebook page design. Use the next month to experiment with your timeline, and achieve the look you want before you publish it to the world. In the meantime, we'll keep the helpful content coming and do our best to uncover any new best practices as we find them.
If you'd like to check out what a timeline page looks like in the wild, we published HubSpot's new page design this morning. It's still a work in progress, but take a look!
Facebook has also published a few helpful resources you can access for even more information: