5 Things Small Businesses Need to Know about Facebook Timeline
This post is from members of Verizon’s small business team.
Facebook is an incredibly useful tool that allows small businesses to reach new customers and build strong relationships with the customers you already have. Recently, Facebook introduced a new format called Timeline that will change the way your page looks and some of the ways you use it to interact with customers.
As we just changed the Verizon Small Biz Facebook page, we share the following overview of the changes you need to know about to make sure your Facebook page is the best possible representation of your business.
- Cover Photo
The most obvious change is the addition of cover photos, or banner-like images that measure 851 by 315 pixels and span the top of your page. You will still have a profile picture but this cover image gives you an opportunity to further customize your page with the look and feel of your brand.
Facebook does have a few stipulations about what kind of picture you can use as a cover image. Cover photos cannot include:
- Information about prices or how to purchase your products or services
- Web addresses, phone numbers, email, physical addresses or any other contact information
- Language or graphics that encourage your fans to “Like” or “Share” your page
- Calls to action like “Win today!” or “Buy it now!”
A good rule of thumb for cover photos is to stick to images that you own, that accurately reflect your business and that have few words.
2. Pinned and Starred Posts
The Timeline update also lets you have more control over how content appears on your page by allowing you to “pin” an update in your timeline. A pinned update will stay at the top of the page for seven days. So, if you have an important event coming up, such as a weeklong sale or just an especially exciting piece of news, you can pin it to make sure everyone who visits your page that week sees it.
Another way to highlight updates on your page is to “star” them. A starred post will move down your timeline as you add updates, but it will take up two column widths to display images, videos and information more prominently.
Facebook has also announced that it will soon launch “offers”, another tool that will help businesses reach customers. This feature will allow you to create an offer, such as a sale or promotion, and then post that offer on your business’s timeline. When customers visit your page, they can click on the offer, receive a voucher via email and then redeem that offer at your business or on your e-commerce website. In addition to giving you a new way to promote sales on your business’s page, this feature encourages your customers to share the offers they get on their own timeline and in their friends’ news feeds.
Right now, “offers” is only available to brands that advertise on at Facebook using an account manager. Facebook has said that it expects to make offers more widely available soon.
- Private Messages
Individual Facebook users have always been able to use the website to send each other messages, but now businesses can receive and respond to private messages too. This feature will not allow you to initiate a private conversation with one of your customers, but if a customer has a specific concern or question, they can send it to you directly without posting it publicly on your wall. Another nice aspect of this feature is that if your business does not have the resources to handle messages, you can disable it.
- Increase Mobile Functions
Currently, users can only view the Wall, Info and Photos tabs of any Facebook page on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, but this will soon change. Facebook has announced that in the future users will be able to view all tabs on their phones or tablets. We are still waiting to see what that user experience will be like, but this increased functionality does expand the possibilities for how you can to reach your customers, even when they are away from their computers.
All Facebook pages have now been automatically updated to the Timeline format. Visit your business’s page and follow the prompts to take advantage of these new features.