The complete guide to optimizing new Facebook brand pages for your social media marketing strategy

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By Alexandra Reid

Facebook has announced that it will roll out new brand pages on March 30. However, businesses and organizations already active on Facebook can take the tour and publish their new pages now. This presents an opportunity for social media marketers to prepare content for new pages according to new features and specifications prior to the mandatory upgrade.

The layout of Facebook’s new pages is different from the current one in a number of ways and page users who have not prepared their content for the new format may see their once beautiful pages butchered. Please do yourself a favour and take the necessary steps outlined in this post to ensure your page and content strategy are perfect before the deadline. If you need a kick in the butt to get you moving, turn on your preview for the new page design by clicking the green button at the top of your page to see the horror of what an ill-prepared page looks like.

Facebook’s new pages incorporate its new timeline layout recently rolled out to personal pages. The best way to engage people with a new page timeline, says Facebook, is to share updates, questions, photos, links and other content on your page regularly. Post at least a few times a week so people who like you see your stories in their news feeds, and visitors to your page always see something new. Make sure people notice your most important content by pinning posts to the top of your page or starring them so they’re bigger, which we will get into later in this post. And, of course, respond to people and engage them in conversation.

From a bird’s eye view, Facebook’s new pages allow for more controlled branding, providing more ways to tell your story and otherwise express your identity. They also provide better tools for community management, helping businesses and organizations provide a more relevant experience for each person who visits the page. They are great platforms for connecting with and engaging communities, announcing new products, sharing news, and gathering feedback. They also allow businesses and organizations to share unique brand content that can ultimately be used for advertisements and media stories.

In a nutshell, new pages allow businesses and organizations to:

  1. Express their identity with features such as cover photos and page timelines
  2. Reach and engage audiences on the web and through mobile devices
  3. Respond to people quickly and personally

Part 1 – Visual branding

Cover photo

New Facebook pages allow users to upload a cover photo. As the first thing people see when they visit your page, this photo should express your business or organization and be interesting in a way that engages a community.

Page administrators can choose a photo that already exists in a page’s albums or upload a new photo from a computer file. It is best to choose a unique photo that expresses your business or organization’s identity. Suggestions of good image ideas include products or people using your services.

The ideal dimensions for cover photos are 851×315 pixels. Facebook will automatically resize all cover photos that do not meet these dimensions, but they may become distorted.

Administrators can reposition a cover photo by dragging it to an ideal position and saving the new changes. Cover photos can be changed at any time simply by hovering a cursor over the photo and selecting the option.

There are some rules to cover photos. As outlined by Facebook, they cannot include price or purchase information, calls to action or display a web address, email or mailing address, phone number or other contact information.

Example:

Profile picture

Your profile picture is an image that represents your business or organization across Facebook as a smaller thumbnail image. As this image is used in news feed stories as well as advertising units, it should be easily recognizable and strongly associated with your brand. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use a logo as this image generally doesn’t change.

If you already have a page, your existing profile picture will be used here, but you have the option to move, resize or replace it to suite the new page’s specifications. You can upload photos from a computer file or those already in albums on Facebook by selecting the “make a profile picture” link.

The ideal dimensions of a profile picture are 180×180 pixels. However, the size of your profile picture shrinks to 32×32 pixels when it shows up on other areas of Facebook, so make sure lettering and any intricate designs are still visible.

Example:

Views

Views are a replacement for tabs in that they highlight and link to important content on the page. Users can now more easily navigate important content by using different views along the top of the page. Like tabs, views can include photos, events, notes, custom applications and other main pieces of content.

Facebook will show four main views with the photo application always first. You can reorder the others as you see fit, but make sure these first four views are those that contain your most important content.

If you require more than four views, a drop down menu will appear so users can see an expanded list of all your views and applications, with a limit of 12. Organize these in order of importance.

With the exception of the photos tab, which displays your most recently uploaded image, you can customize each application’s icon with a title and image measuring 111×74 pixels.

Example:

Part 2 – Branding: highlight and control content

New pages allow more custom management of content.

Pin posts: Businesses and organizations can pin posts to the top of pages each week. These posts are anchored for seven days and highlight an important piece of content so it is the first thing people see when they arrive on the page.

Administrators can continue to post content on a daily basis to drive engagement and conversations with fans while the pinned post remains fixed. Posts can be pinned and unpinned using the pencil icon on each post. When a post is unpinned, it will revert to the original formatting and place on the timeline. Only one piece of content can be pinned at a time.

Star posts: Starring posts makes them appear wider on the page but does not change their location. Simply click the star button to highlight a piece of content at any place in your timeline. You can revert a featured post to the original size anytime you like by clicking the star icon again.

Milestones: Milestones define your business or organization’s key moments. Like starred posts, Milestones take up the whole width of the page. Simply click the “milestone” button located directly above the composer to enter information about the key moment you would like to highlight, such as a title, location, year, photo and story. Milestones appear in the correct position on a pages timeline according to the date entered.

Note: Like Star posts, Milestone images are 843×403 pixels, compared to wall posts, which are 404×404 pixels. Use these features to draw attention to key moments such as a new store opening, a product launch or participating in a meaningful event.

Change dates: Administrators can change the dates of all posts to ensure they appear on pages in the correct timeframe using the pencil function. Note that this feature is only available on posts listed on the right-hand channel of the timeline.

Hide posts: The pencil function can also be used to hide posts to prevent them from being seen from all visitors on the page. Administrators can still see hidden posts in the activity log, where they can also be deleted.

Composer: Like current pages, this feature allows businesses and organizations to post status updates to the page. This is the best way to engage a community as stories appear on fan’s timelines. This is where you post all your content that you can then manage on the page.

Part 3 – Community management

New pages help brands and organizations provide a more relevant experience for each person who visits a page with a number of new features.

Friends: This feature gives Facebook users a more personal page experience, making viewable all interactions that someone’s friend has had with a page. If a page fan has liked, visited, tagged or checked a page into a location, that activity will be viewable to all of that fan’s friends in a box right on the business’s or organization’s page. This helps friends of fans identify relationships and feel personally connected to your business or organization, encouraging them to join your community too. To populate this box with friend activity, regularly post rich stories that drive fan engagement.

Example:

Activity log: This management feature shows all page posts and allows administrators to control what content appears on the page’s timeline. Here, administrators can hide, unhide, star and change the dates of posts.

Example:

Admin panel: This management feature organizes all notifications, insights and other key information so administrators can quickly and easily gather information and respond to fans. Fans can now have one-on-one conversations with businesses and organizations through private messaging on pages, and these conversations can be managed through the admin panel.

Example:

There are lots of places to learn more about new Facebook pages:

For more information about new features, start with Facebook’s Pages Overview Guide (PDF)

If you’re new to pages and want to know how to get started, check out Facebook’s full Pages Product Guide (PDF)

Facebook offers you the opportunity to walk through key features with its product experts in its Pages Learning video

And I wrote a post on Important points B2B businesses should consider before launching a Facebook brand page that I encourage you to read as well.

Any questions?

/// COMMENTS

4 Comments »
  • Nick Stamoulis

    March 22, 2012 9:48 am

    This is a great overview of the changes to brand pages. Many business owners that aren’t too savvy with social media are worried about the change. This is a good example of why it’s important to make the main focus of your internet marketing strategy your website, because that is something that you will always have control over.

  • Alexandra Reid

    March 22, 2012 3:51 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, Nick. While social media platforms are always changing, users still have control over the content provide on those platforms and how they use the tools available to engage with their communities. If a business has made a presence in social media, it is up to that business to stay on top of changes and ensure content is always relevant and properly formatted. Alternatively, businesses can hire community managers and social media strategies to stay on top of developments for them. That’s what we are here for :)

  • Keith Dobie

    April 22, 2012 7:11 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial. Just set up my Facebook Page and this was very helpful.

  • Mark Martin

    August 02, 2012 5:57 pm

    Are their ways to optimize your cover photo for when it is viewed on a device like an iPhone?

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