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Toronto-based boutique agency specializing in web design and development, identity and print design.
Mar 5

Changes to Facebook Brand/Business Pages: What you need to know in order to prepare!

Facebook is changing. Again.

This time it is business and brand pages that are being affected which affect many of our clients so I’ve prepared this high level overview to help you make the transition. So, when we are all done being angry about Facebook changing things and them forcing us to learn new ways to use their site as a marketing tool, check it out and I think you might agree the changes are a great step forward in terms of allowing brands to promote to and communicate with their fans.

Below are some of the changes set to take effect on March 31. As a Page admin, you can preview the new design and prepare in advance – I can’t recommend this enough. Once you are happy with your new setup, you can switch to the new system before the automatic switch is forced upon you at the end of the month.

Change One: The cover photo

Following the visual direction of recent change to personal pages on Facebook, brands will now be able to have a large wide picture at the top of their page. Consider this your Page’s welcome mat. It is great that Facebook gave us this visual space (so much nicer to look at than the Wall view) but, of course, they have also given us some restrictions on what you can include within that graphic. The list of things not to include (as posted by Facebook here)¬†are:

  • Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
  • Contact information, such as website address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

Optimal Image Size: To avoid Facebook cropping or stretching your image, use one at 851 x 315 pixels.
Suggestion: Be creative but don’t’ draw too much attention away from the countless other things you want people to be engaging with on your Page.

Change Two: Your profile picture

This is now square and sits partially on top of the cover photo in Timeline view. Your current profile picture may already be square in which case this change won’t affect you. However, if your profile picture is taller, you’ll have to revise to fit the new layout.

Image Size: 180 x 180 pixels however you can upload any size and centre using Facebook’s image upload tools.
Suggestion: Keep this simple as it will be reduced to VERY small sizes for other views including profile pics in mobile apps – so imagine what it will look like when its smaller than a dime.

Change Three: Goodbye Wall, hello Timeline

The two serve a similar purpose but the Timeline is so much more than your Wall ever was. It is much more visual (see Ben and Jerry’s Timeline as an example) and you can go back in time to before Facebook existed to get a better feel for a company or Brand’s history (see Ford Motor Car’s Timeline as an example).

You will still be able to post to your Timeline and allow others (optional) to as well.

Suggestion: Before you launch, review your Timeline and add, remove and beef up content where you can. If someone wants to learn more about your brand over the past 20 years, why not let them?

Change Four: Prioritizing content

There are a few option of how you can prioritize content in the new Facebook setup.

  1. You can control the order of the Apps that now appear below your cover photo (formerly in the sidebar). The first App, by default, is always Photos but after that you can choose your next three visible Apps and up to 12 in total. If you actively use the video App, then perhaps you’ll make this the second visible App. Or if you have some custom Page Apps, those would most likely be brought to the front.
  2. You can PIN content to the top of your Timeline. If you have a story on your Timeline that you don’t want to get pushed down too far, Pin it so it always appear at the top. Facebook limites this to 7 days.
  3. You can STAR a post on your Timeline. Facebook suggests using this for milestones in your company or brand’s history. By STARing a post, it will make it appear twice as well (covering both columns of your Timeline and thereby much more visible.

Optimal Image Size: If you are going to STAR content the size of image that works best for this is 845 x 405 pixels. Using images at this size means Facebook won’t crop or shift your photo.
Suggestions: PIN any sort of timely promotion so it doesn’t get lost further down your page and change it weekly; STAR content that is the visually interesting – try STARing video as well.

Change Five: Custom designed Tabs

Uh oh. Here is the big change which will leave those of you with custom tabs already feeling a little left behind. But those of you considering to have a custom tab created for you to extend your website’s brand to Facebook even more are in luck – tab designs just got MUCH MUCH bigger. We are moving from 520 to 810 pixels wide to be exact. This is a considerable change and gives us, as designers and information architects, much more options to help you to better engage your fans.

There are two types of Facebook tabs designs out there currently: FBML or iFrame.

  • iFrame Tabs: You may have one of these already or I am sure you’ve seen then. They are the custom designed sections of your Facebook Page currently accessed from the left sidebar App list. These, up until now, have been built at 520 pixels wide. Once you switch over to the new design, your 520 pixel wide design will float in the middle of the 810 pixel space. This isn’t the end of the world but it does look a little funny and its such as waste of space!
  • FBML Tabs: These pages were an older way to build Facebook pages and less common than their iFrame cousin. They will continue to work once you switch to the new layout of your Page but as of June 1, 2012 they will no longer work at all which means this might be the time to think about redesigning with the larger size in mind.

Other FAQs

I would like to change my custom page so it fills the space better. What do I need to do?
Contact us to discuss options and costs.

How do I add items on my Timeline?
Where you would normally add your status update, you’ll see a link for MILESTONE. Use this to add items form the past. Its best to always check off “hide from news feed” so you don’t anger you followers with every additional update. Consider adding photos to your milestones as well to keep your Timeline visually interesting.

Can I still make my custom tab the default landing page?
Nope. Sorry.

Why does Facebook keep changing things?
It could be this is how Zuckerberg feels like he is in control – by constantly forcing us to learn new systems and layouts. But more likely it’s because of countless amounts of data and research that say the changes will be good for us which will make us use Facebook more which means we’ll interact with ads more which means more ads will be sold which means Facebook makes more money. Now, why didn’t I invent Facebook?