On March 30, big changes are coming to all Facebook brand pages – the new Timeline format.

Timeline has already begun appearing on personal pages so it will not be entirely unfamiliar to many Facebook users. However, even users who are familiar with this format will find a number of new features only available for brand pages. 

Your library or nonprofit may not be able to follow the big brands in throwing a large marketing budget behind the new layout. But with a little forethought, know-how, and creative reuse of the resources you have on hand, you can take advantage of these changes to tell your organization's story in a fresh way.

Read up now on what's ahead and start thinking about how you want to use your existing content to highlight the achievements that make your organization unique.

The Changes

  1. Cover photo: In addition to a thumbnail for your organization’s logo there is a cover photo that is 851x351 pixels in size. The cover photo presents an opportunity to use a powerful image to visually engage your fans when they visit your organization’s Facebook page. There’s no need to hire a photographer or designer to create a cover image as most organizations already have at their disposal some wonderful photos of volunteers and staff in action. Some other tips to keep in mind: it is against Facebook Terms of Service to use certain text, such as calls to action, on your cover photo.
  2. Pinned posts: Instead of re-posting an important message, page administrators can pin important messages so they remain prominently displayed. Pinned posts can be featured for up to seven days above other status updates.
  3. Hidden posts: Page administrators can hide posts that did not generate many likes or comments without losing data related to those posts, giving engaging content the opportunity to not get lost.
  4. Milestones: The timeline now allows an page administrators to highlight milestone moments in their organization’s history. The types of information worth highlighting include the year your organization was founded, notable campaigns, etc.
  5. Applications: The bad news is that applications can no longer be used to create custom landing pages. Secondly, only a limited number of applications can be displayed at one time. The good news is that smaller thumbnails indicating applications will appear in a more prominent area directly beneath the cover photo.
  6. Message inbox: Facebook fans who do not want to contact page administrators publicly via an organization’s Facebook wall can now send private messages. Page administrators can access those messages via their page inbox. However, while administrators can receive messages they cannot privately message fans.
  7. Admin panel: Fan activity metrics, notifications, access to the Facebook page Help Center, and, even the message inbox are easily accessible through an administrator panel. The administrator panel allows includes options to manage and edit a brand page.
  8. Activity log: Accessing the activity log gives administrators a view of every post ever published to their organization’s page. Admins can view and sort items according to year or type of content and highlight posts to expand them to a page’s full width.

Read More

Organizations should take the time to familiarize themselves with the new features and upload new content before taking their pages public with the new format. If you do not want to wait until March 30 when Facebook switches all pages to Timeline, simply click the “Publish Now” button at the top your of your page and go live.

Our partner, Connecting Up Australia's Ben Teoh, wrote a super guide on how to maximize the Facebook Timeline for your organization. It's worth a read if your organization has a presence on Facebook.

Susan Chavez, Online Community Team, TechSoup Global